Aron Smith held off the attentions of Mat Jackson in a thrilling final Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the day of Snetterton for his second win of 2014.
The Irishman lead the race from lights-to-flag having started from the reverse-grid pole position, the BMR Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CC leading the field into Riches for the first time of asking as he held off the pair of Motorbase Performance Ford Focuses of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jackson in a remarkably clean opening lap.
The action quickly intensified as Smith soon came under severe pressure from the two Fords, and on lap seven there was a change for second as Jackson brushed aside his Italian team-mate at Montreal hairpin.
Behind them there was more drama, this time involving championship leader Colin Turkington who tagged Matt Neal into a big moment in their battle for fourth place heading into the same hairpin, Neal recovering from the half-spin as Adam Morgan joined in the entertainment.
Morgan – who had been bumped wide at Agostini hairpin by Neal earlier in the race – was then edged wide at the same bend by the attacking Turkington, who squeezed the WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class down the pack behind championship rivals Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden.
Plato took a sniff at Turkington as the day’s top two drivers joined the lead trio in a queue for race three honours, Turkington braving his defence around the outside at Hamiltons after attacking Giovanardi into Montreal hairpin.
Smith came under the most intense pressure of all on the final tour of the Norfolk circuit from Jackson’s Ford, surviving several taps into the Montreal hairpin as he claimed a fantastic second triumph of the season for himself and the BMR Racing squad, as well as the Volkswagen CC machine.
Jackson was a mere 0.4s adrift of victory at the flag, the top 10 covered by just 5.3s.
Giovanardi did not join his team-mate on the podium however, after he ran wide at the Bombhole under pressure from Turkington and then spun out at the final corner trying to fend of another West Surrey Racing BMW 125i of Rob Collard.
Turkington therefore made up the podium ahead of Plato’s Triple Eight MG, while Shedden’s Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer made up the top five. Collard also overtook Sam Tordoff‘s MG in the closing stages, while Morgan had to settle for eighth place ahead of Marc Hynes – the best result of his maiden BTCC season.
Jack Goff rounded out the top 10 for the BMR Racing squad, while Giovanardi ended 13th after his last lap debacle. Nick Foster was out of luck in the third WSR BMW, collected by the spinning Pirtek Racing Honda Civic of Martin Depper at Riches.
Turkington survived the race three melee to maintain a 23-point series lead over Shedden, Plato now just 43 adrift of the Northern Irishman as the championship heads to Knockhill on 23/24 August.