Given a golden opportunity to salvage something from another troubled BTCC weekend, Jason Plato too full advantage to break the turbocharged cars' domination of Thruxton by taking a win in the final race of the day at the Hampshire circuit.
Plato led every lap of the race, taking the lead from a slow starting Tom Boardman on the startline, and fending off the challenge of Mat Jackson, who had jumped into second from fifth on the grid, passing Boardman, James Nash and Alex MacDowall, who made a slow getaway from third on the reverse grid.
Plato – free of any success ballast – was able to pull away from the NGTC powered drivers behind pulling out a lead of over a second over Jackson, with Boardman, Nash and MacDowall pulling away from Tom Chilton in sixth place.
However, Plato's lead was erased on lap six when Chilton buckled under pressure from Andrew Jordan and went off on the exit of Allard – the sweeping right hander that begins the lap. The Team Aon car swiped the Armco barrier with front and rear before spinning back across the track. Thankfully Chilton was not collected by anyone, and Jordan escaped after he nearly followed Chilton into the barriers, however, the stranded Focus on the inside of the track was enough to bring out the safety car.
With the turbocharged cars massing behind him Plato might have been swamped once the green flag flew, but for Tom Boardman being caught out when the safety car pulled in, affording Jackson and Plato a comfortable lead across the line to return to racing.
Boardman was not leading a train of cars including the Hondas of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan, who had fallen behind the Honda Racing Team pair and was struggling with his car after his trip across the grass.
With James Nash the first driver behind the black SEAT Alex MacDowall tried an opportunistic move up the inside through the complex, but to no avail, and a lap later the Silverline Chevrolet was the man on the wrong end of a shuffle as Matt Neal eased him wide through Allard, providing just the opportunity Shedden and Jordan needed to make up a place at the expense of the Cruze driver.
Boardman held onto third – his first BTCC podium in the final race of weekend which was relatively unblemished by bad luck by his normal standards, and behind the battling MacDowall Tony Gilham and Tom Onslow–Cole returned to points scoring ways, Onslow-Cole fighting his way through the field after missing the second race in the AmD Milltek Racing VW Golf.
Matt Neal ends the weekend in the championship lead, 12 points clear of Mat Jackson. James Nash, who began the racing in the points lead slipped to third after a quiet, but consistent, first Touring Car visit to Thruxton. Race three winner Plato bounced back up to sixth place, at the expense of Tom Chilton.
BTCC Thruxton Race Three Result
|1||1||Jason Plato||Silverline Chevrolet||18 laps in 25:54.654|
|2||7||Mat Jackson||Airwaves Racing||+1.44|
|3||22||Tom Boardman||Special Tuning Racing||+2.217|
|4||14||James Nash||888 with Collins Contractors||+2.601|
|5||2||Matt Neal||Honda Racing Team||+3.110|
|6||52||Gordon Shedden||Honda Racing Team||+3.463|
|7||77||Andrew Jordan||Pirtek Racing||+8.790|
|8||20||Alex MacDowall||Silverline Chevrolet||+9.113|
|9||34||Tony Gilham||888 with Collins Contractors||+10.507|
|10||99||Tom Onslow-Cole||AmD Milltek Racing||+11.062|
|11||55||Jeff Smith||Pirtek Racing||+17.682|
|12||44||Andy Neate||Team Aon||+18.300|
|14||29||Paul O'Neill||GomobileUK.com with tech-speed||+19.568|
|15||66||Liam Griffin||Airwaves Racing||+19.875|
|16||28||John George||GomobileUK.com with tech-speed||+26.512|
|18||78||Chris James||Team ES Racing||+54.655|
|DNF||5||Tom Chilton||Team Aon||5 laps|
|DNF||11||Frank Wrathall||Dynojet||2 laps|
|DNS||13||Rob Austin||Rob Austin Racing|