After the manic end to the previous round at Donington Park the opening race of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton provided a more sedate spectacle for the assembled fans.

Despite the performance balancing shackles place on the turbocharged the front of the race was still dominated by the NGTC powered cars. Gordon Shedden led the race from pole position, initially pulling away from Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal, both of who had kept their places from the grid.

The only change for position early on was Tom OnslowCole. After putting the AmD Milltek VW sixth on the grid – by far the best qualifying performance for the car to date – he was part of a fight for fourth though the opening corners of the race. He drew alongside Tom Chilton and Jason Plato, and even appeared to have the inside line approaching the right-hander at Campbell that begins the complex.

However, the man in the Golf found himself shuffled back under braking, falling all the way back to eighth and into the clutches of championship leader James Nash who had started from tenth after bringing maximum (45kg) success ballast into qualifying and the opening race of the day.

Perhaps mindful of being too harsh on the Dunlop tyres, few drivers were aggressive enough to mount serious overtaking moves. At different points in the race broth Andrew Jordan and Tom Boardman led significant trains of cars, but with little sign of opportunistic overtaking behind.

Matt Neal was one of the few drivers to make a pass, setting Andrew Jordan up through Allard – the first corner before diving up the inside at Campbell to take second place with only the slightest contact.

Neal was able to gain on his Honda Racing Team stablemate in the lead – either through genuine speed advantage or team orders, as Neal took the lead from a willing Shedden under braking for the Club chicane, led the Scot at the start/finish line to pick up an addictional point, before yielding the point back to Shedden within a lap.

Jason Plato was another man doing some passing, taking fifth from Mat Jackson around the outside under braking for the chicane on lap four. The reigning champion, as expected, was leading the normally aspirated runners – all the others struggling outside the top ten – and having dispatched Jackson's older style Ford Focus quickly made up a two second gap to the back of Tom Chilton's new 'global' Ford.

Both Chilton and Plato were following Andrew Jordan, the Pirtek Racing driver having being dropped by the leading Hondas. However, on the fourteenth lap of the 16 Plato was off, a front puncture sending him straight on at the chicane into the tyre wall, the Cruze suffering heavy front end damage.  Like his race one puncture at Donington Park, Plato blamed the puncture on having to drive the car beyond the limit in order to keep pace with the turbocharged cars.

Plato, post-puncture, crashes out of fifth place

Plato's late retirement brought teammate Alex MacDowall into tenth for the final points, the youngster chasing the Vectras of Jeff Smith and James Nash across the line at the end of the race. Onslow-Cole was unable to reverse the effects of the opening corners and finished seventh, adding more points to the AmD Milltek tally and moving towards the much sought after consistency.

Tom Boardman finished fifth ahead of Mat Jackson, Boardman having pounced on Jackson after the Airwves Racing driver had lost out to Plato and held off the Donington winner for the remainder of the race.

Neal’s second place – and point for leading – put him ahead of Nash in the points standings, Plato’s DNF, dropped him another place in the points, falling behind race winner Shedden.

BTCC Thruxton Race One Result

  No. Driver Team  
1 52 Gordon Shedden Honda Racing Team 16 laps in 21:28.457
2 2 Matt Neal Honda Racing Team +0.256
3 77 Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing +2.651
4 5 Tom Chilton Team Aon +4.361
5 22 Tom Boardman Special Tuning Racing +9.142
6 7 Mat Jackson Airwaves Racing +9.611
7 99 Tom Onslow-Cole AmD Milltek Racing +10.641
8 14 James Nash 888 with Collins Contractors +11.382
9 55 Jeff Smith Pirtek Racing +12.469
10 20 Alex MacDowall Silverline Chevrolet +12.827
11 34 Tony Gilham 888 with Collins Contractors +19.416
12 8 Rob Collard WSR +20.068
13 29 Paul O'Neill with tech-speed +20.786
14 66 Liam Griffin Airwaves Racing +32.348
15 18 Nick Foster WSR +33.482
16 44 Andy Neate Team Aon +39.931
17 28 John George with tech-speed +45.057
18 78 Chris James Team ES Racing +1 lap
DNF 1 Jason Plato Silverline Chevrolet 13 laps
DNF 11 Frank Wrathall Dynojet 3 laps
DNF 13 Rob Austin Rob Austin Racing 0 laps