The third and final race of the Thruxton BTCC weekend saw the top nine from race two reversed, handing Rob Collard pole position over Steven Kane with Renault Clio Cup alumni Alex MacDowall and Phil Glew on the second row. The pair of young drivers made a poor start allowing the front row duo to be joined by Kane's Airwaves teammate Mat Jackson in a BMW 1-2-3 that made a mockery of the new rules brought in this year to try and lessen the rear-wheel drive advantage off the line.
Jackson was soon passed by Matt Neal, powering through the field after his second place in race two with Plato, Giovanardi and Gordon Shedden all worked their way past Glew.
On lap eight as the two BMWs followed each other on the more traditional line for the Club chicane at the end of the lap Neal groped down the outside, sliding past Kane round the outside as the trio entered the corner. However, Neal Honda Civic was now stranded in no-man's-land for the second part of the chicane, faced with an impossibly sharp angle and hemmed in by the BMWs.
He could do nothing but vainly climb the kerb to try and escape the situation he'd gotten himself into but inevitably as leader Collard turned in he hit the front of Neal's car bouncing off sideways only for inertia to force the two back together spinning Collard 180 degrees into the Armco. Collard, who crossed the BMW divide from Airwaves to West Surrey over the winter slamming Neal's driving as “amateur” in a typically colourful pitlane TV interview.
Recovering the stricken WSR car from the side of the track brought out the safety car, extending the race to 18 laps. Kane and Jackson now held the top two positions, Neal having been forced retire with self inflicted damage, with Plato in third.
Once the race got underway again the BMWs once more made good their escape, Plato perhaps too pre-occupied with Giovanardi behind him to but any pressure on the leaders, though there were several nervous moments for David Bartrum's Motorbase team as their pair of drivers threatened to let a fight for the win get in the way of a triumphant result.
More than once Jackson seemed to have pushed Kane into a mistake, slipping wide at the top of Woodham Hill though the positions remained the same. Shedden nipped past Giovanardi in the closing laps, while Phil Glew's promising BTCC debut weekend came to a smokey end, pulling his Vectra to the inside of the circuit on the penultimate lap.
The Arena Fords finally had some good fortune with Toms Onslow-Cole and Chilton finally scoring some points and Dave Pinkney completed a trio of minor points scoring finishes in tenth.
- No.11 Steven Kane 18 laps 25:29.299
- No.5 Mat Jackson +1.096
- No.2 Jason Plato +1.543
- No.52 Gordon Shedden +1.733
- No.888 Fabrizio Giovanardi +1.907
- No.29 Paul O'Neill +8.381
- No.21 Tom Onslow-Cole +9.036
- No.23 Tom Chilton +9.643
- No.22 Alex MacDowall +11.363
- No.55 Dave Pinkney +12.003
Photo Credit: BTCC.net