Andrew Jordan closed out a luckless 2010 season with a lights to flag win from the pole position handed him by the reverse grid.
It was Jordan's second win of the season in the NGTC turbo engine Vauxhall Vectra, but though his maiden win at Croft came in similar circumstances the races could not have been more different.
While at Croft Jordan was able to pull away and win easily, the third race on the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit saw him hold off a determined Steven Kane for the win – the Ulsterman in his own points battle with Tom Chilton for the Independent Drivers' title.
Chilton and Kane should have been fighting for the title with Tom Onslow-Cole in the other Team Aon Ford Focus. However, his catastrophic day continued when he retired to the pits at the end of the formation laps – a recurrence of the power steering problem that ended his second race early to blame. Matt Neal was soon to follow Onslow-Cole into retirement – his slow start betraying a deeper problem as he limped the Honda back to the pits to retire with a broken CV joint.
Jordan also had to survive two safety car periods. The first when Lee Wood's Central Racing Group Honda suffered an engine failure, dropping oil on the entrance to Surtees before pulling off the track.
The restart seemed to make the race Jordan's – leaping out with a well timed restart to take the green flag 1.4 seconds ahead, which he extended to 1.7 after one racing lap.
It was to be the high water mark for the Pirtek Racing driver's lead, both Kane and Chilton – in their own battle for second – gaining on him lap after lap to claw back his lead until Kane was just two-tenths behind. Then the safety car appeared again.
This time it was for Ben Collins, who had run into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend after running into the first corner too fast and too wide by himself. Again Jordan's restart gave him a useful lead (0.737 seconds) which again, Kane was able to whittle down to next to nothing until he was all but pushing Jordan around Druids.
Kane's final attempt came on the last lap, when he aimed to challenge on the inside of Druids, only to slide wide himself, dropping over half a second to allow Jordan to cross the line 0.949 seconds ahead.
“We've had such an awful weekend,” admitted Jordan, “We've just not been on the pace at all so to get that it's just something else. It gives you huge momentum going to into the winter and hopefully next year as well.”
“That [returning with Pirtek Racing] is what we're going to work very hard at,” he added looking ahead to 2011. “We'll work hard so we can get a really good budget and hopefully have a crack for the title next year.”
Though Kane finished second Chilton's third place – holding off the BMWs of Rob Collard and Mat Jackson for much to the 27 laps – was enough to confirm his as independents' champion.
“I think with the new turbo engine [in Jordan's car] it was very difficult to pass and I think with Ben [Collins] it didn't really help the situation with the tyres going off,” said a jovial Kane. “When I was relying on the tyres going off it didn't help. It was just a matter of second was where we could finish without taking a massive risk to have Andrew off. It wasn't worth it at the end of the day.”
“I was trying my best because we weren't strong enough on the straight so I was trying in the corners. I had a massive slide through Paddock – I felt like I was on the edge.”
New champion Jason Plato, starting from seventh and promising an aggressive set-up struggled, perhaps the success ballast finally clipping the Cruze's powerful wings. Mat Jackson and James Nash both dragged past the Chevrolet down the pit straight before Gordon Shedden – fighting back from a poor race two result – beat him wide with a tattoo of blow around Clark to relegate Plato to ninth by the end of the race.
Mat Jackson finished fourth – coming out on top of the battle between he, Collard and Paul O'Neill that brewed behind Chilton. Jackson had elbowed Collard wide at Clearways in the closing laps, and opportunistic O'Neill seizing the chance to move up to fifth for Sunshine.co.uk.
James Nash was seventh on another quiet weekend for Triple Eight, who also took the final point with Sam Tordoff finishing tenth on his BTCC debut.
“I think everyone had a great weekend,” said series director Alan Gow after the trophy presentations. “It's great weather – today in particularly – and good racing and everyone's come away from here very happy.”
Mr. Gow's assessment of the 2010 season as the crowd began to file out of Brands Hatch – “fantastic, but every year we can always do better.”