Gordon Shedden once more drove through the pack to secure a fourth win of the season on a roller-coaster Thruxton weekend for he and the Honda Yuasa Racing team on a day that began with both works Civics mired on the lower reaches of the grid.
The reverse grid draw – pushing Shedden back to ninth after his race two win – again gave the Scot plenty of work to do to move back up to the front, a task that was in equal measures eased and complicated by a return of the rain as the Touring Cars assembled for the final of the meeting.
The opening corners were full of minor contact and sliding as drivers discovered exactly how much grip the wet tarmac would surrender. Mat Jackson was tipped into a slide through Allard amid a ball of spray that hung over the field. Two corners later his Redstone Racing teammate Aron Smith slid wide at Campbell, the Irishman struggling as one of four drivers on the grid choosing to start on slick front and wet rear tyres.
Smith rejoined in front of a fearsome gaggle of cars, fighting with and around Dave Newsham – another to split his choice of tyres front to rear and now regretting the choice -allowing the top five – polesitter Tony Gilham, Rob Collard, Frank Wrathall and the two Hondas – Shedden already up to fifth through what he described as the “pinball” of the opening turns.
Collard lost ground, the BMW wobbling its way around Church, the loss of momentum leaving him behind the Toyota and Honda by the time they reached the chicane to complete the first lap. Wrathall and Neal fought briefly for second, Neal had taken the position on the second half of the opening lap, only for Wrathall to fight back, forcing the reigning champion wide at Cobb. However, the combined might of the works Hondas could be not be denied. Shedden, having passed Neal as he recovered back to the racing line in the complex took second at Church, Neal seizing the opportunity and passing the Avensis down Woodham Hill.
Gilham managed to keep Shedden at bay until lap four before buckling under the pressure, going deep into Campbell, therefore compromising his line through the remaining corners of the complex and allowing Shedden into the lead, Neal following his teammate through at the sweeping left turn of Noble.
Gilham's came to an end at Campbell two laps later when he locked up trying to keep third place from Wrathall, the Honda sliding into the tyre wall.
Jason Plato, meanwhile, had been one of those delayed by the tangles of the opening corners, but was now on his own way to the front, passing Mat Jackson at the complex and then gaining on Wrathall to challenge for the final spot on the podium. Plato's main chance of taking the position – and rounding off a full house of podium visits on the day – came under braking for the chicane and for the final three laps Wrathall was under pressure.
One lap 14 Plato lined up to pass down the inside, a move Wrathall duly blocked by taking the defensive line into the corner. The following two laps Plato opted to look to the outside, unsuccessfully both times, giving Wrathall his first podium of the season at the end of a positive day for he and the Dynojet squad.
Andrew Jordan's day, however, had gone wrong since qualifying on pole, his fifth place finish a high water mark for the Staffordshire driver as he finished ahead of race one winner Mat Jackson.
Rob Collard and Lea Wood finished seventh and eighth after both had taken a spin through the chicane on the final lap. Wood had looked to take the position on the outside of the chicane but got sideways under braking tapping Collard into his own spin. The pair – Collard's BMW now trailing a rear bumper – stumbled across the line in the same order they entered the chicane, though Jeff Smith was just half a second shy of displacing Wood from eighth.
Tom Onslow–Cole finished tenth ahead of Nick Foster and Liam Griffin, a one second penalty for Griffin swapping the pair's positions over from how they crossed the line. Rob Austin was 13th, picking up welcome points to end a nightmarish weekend for the small team.
Aron Smith and Ollie Jackson rounded out the top 15, both men having pitted after starting the race with slick front tyres. Newsham – the only other finisher to start on slick tyres was the 18th and final classified finisher after waiting too long to make his stop – holding out for improving conditions.