The race for the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) title chase appears determined to take a twist at Donington Park, though it seems unsure about in exactly what direction.
After handing those chasing Jason Plato a break in the first race, the second of the day gave Plato a chance to reply.
Even before the lights went out there was trouble for one of the title challengers, Matt Neal creeping in his grid box in anticipation of the start, the Honda driver swiftly called in for a drive through for his crime. The impact however, was lessened by Dave Pinkney's almost simultaneous trip into the Redgate gravel which called out the Safety Car, though by the time the field had collected themselves behind the Porsche tasked with controlling them Pinkney's Vectra had been returned to the track by some quick marshalling.
The single lap behind the safety car was all the help Neal needed to race back to the end of the snake, but it was also a gift for Plato, who had started from nineteenth in the twenty-one car field. By the time the race was neutralised the Silverline Chevrolet driver had climbed to ninth. Shedden had held onto the lead, with Mat Jackson taking second ahead of two Fords, Alex MacDowall already having lost position by cutting across the chicane on the opening lap – though he managed to avoid the foam bales – learning the lesson of race one.
Also in the top ten at this point was Lea Wood, though the eighth place he held under the safety car was wiped out when he came off second best in a banging match with Andrew Jordan through Schwantz Curve and McLeans.
The Ford pace was back in the hands of Onslow-Cole. Ridden of his race one ballast he was able to drag past Jackson on lap five, moving smartly ahead of the BMW at the chicane before galloping up to the rear of the leading Honda, then taking the lead at the chicane.
It was a simple outbraking move, thought Onslow-Cole had had to withstand some forceful driving from Shedden, who only just stopped short of pushing the Ford onto the grass on the right side of the straight.
Once ahead Onslow-Cole was ahead he went unchallenged. He didn't pull away, but Shedden was always at arm's length – the gap at the end of the 17 lap race 0.935 seconds.
The pace in the second half of the race was set by Plato. He had made it fifth by benefitting from going three wide with Steven Kane and Alex MacDowall – the two Cruze's sandwiching the BMW – on the approach to the chicane, Kane and MacDowall cutting the chicane, though again both avoided the troublesome foam blocks.
He passed Tom Chilton on the inside on at the Old Hairpin on lap ten and then overhauled Jackson as the pair ran side-by-side past the pits, separated by just 0.050 at the line. Plato then began cleaving lumps from the gap to the top two – who had been untouchable once Onslow-Cole had passed Jackson. Plato was up to a second a lap quicker than Shedden, but his charge ran out of momentum as the race was running out of laps, eventually ending up sixth tenths behind the Honda driver, and six seconds ahead of Chilton.
Jackson and Steven Kane emerged victorious in the BMW battle with Rob Collard. Collard had taken fifth from Jackson at Coppice on the final lap. However, the Airwaves driver was able pull alongside on the straight and do just enough to send Collard skittering across the gravel before rejoining, Collard's lost speed meaning Kane could take sixth before the line, winning the drag race by 0.069 seconds.
Neal was able to make the most of the opportunity the Safety Car presented by taking eighth from Andrew Jordan on lap 15 at the chicane, inadvertently pushing the Pirtek racer onto pole position for race three. James Nash in tenth, was the only points scorer to find himself outside the inversion having been another to lose out at the chicane and having to cross the gravel.
Neal's eighth dropped him to fourth in the points race, behind Onslow-Cole and Shedden now teid on 198 points, 15 behind Plato who extended his lead by a single point.