Gordon Shedden grabbed victory in race two after misfortune for Jason Plato, and took the championship as Matt Neal's weekend to forget continued.
The win puts Shedden five points clear of Mat Jackson, with Neal unmoved from his post-Croft total of 140 after a front puncture pulled him in front sixth place on lap seven, having fought up from eighteenth.
Shedden took the lead on the first lap, getting a good enough start to latch onto the rear of Plato's polesitting Chevrolet and force Alex MacDowall on the outside line around Riches for the first time. Several drivers behind saw their opportunity, and a nose-to-tail snake of cars entered the braking area for the Montreal Hairpin keen on hugging the apex around the right hander.
Led by Plato they entered, but somewhere in the train a bump started that rippled through Frank Wrathall, Shedden and ended with Plato being pushed off the inside line, and tumbling down the order, Shedden assuming the lead, James Nash and Wrathall second and third ahead of the erstwhile leader.
“Jason covered the inside and I was just sat in behind him holding station,” the race winner told The Checkered Flag. “It was like a juggernaut coming through the back of me so if hadn't of been in front of me I would have been off into the gravel. We were all bunched up and Jason got shuffled out wide.”
Neal meanwhile had found a way through the constant tangle of a BTCC midfield to end the first lap in tenth place. Now free of the ballast he brought into the weekend Neal's progress seemed unstoppable on consecutive laps the Honda driver passed Paul O'Neill and Tom Onslow–Cole, before mounting a challenge to pass Dave Newsham for sixth.
Neal completed the pass with an out-braking move down the inside for Montreal, but failed to pull away from the Special Tuning SEAT driver, Newsham even threatening to retake the position, through as Neal peeled off the Newsham's front bumper and into the pits the reason for the loss of pace became apparent.
Up front the other Honda Racing Team driver was controlling the race, after seizing the lead the battle for second had allowed him to ease to a two second advantage he maintained over Nash even once he had pulled away from Wrathall. The race one hero increasingly fell back into the clutches of Plato and MacDowall in fourth and fifth, manfully holding off the pair of Silverline backed drivers, even surviving running wide on the exit of Montreal, though the error allowed Plato pull alongside on the run to Palmers, turn three on the new Snetterton layout.
Wrathall was finally out fought around the ever decreasing circle of the newly reprofiled Corum, the Chevrolet's driving past on the inside.
The Dynojet racer's weekend then began to turn for the worse. He slowed on the exit of Palmer before pulling off one corner later on the infield section. The Avensis had picked up a broken radiator in the lap one chain reaction, the overheating problem finally reaching a tipping point. To compound the problem the tightly packed schedule means Wrathall will not line up for race three, there not being enough time to replace the broken radiator.
Wrathall's problems promoted Paul O'Neill to fifth behind the Silverline pairing, the three Chevrolet Cruzes running almost in formation by the end of the race, Mat Jackson picked up another sixth to add to his race one result, passing Dave Newsham on the penultimate lap. Tom Onslow–Cole, Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard completed the top ten.
While Wrathall's retirement meant no top ten for NGTC machinery this race, Rob Austin ticked another box for the newest specification Touring Cars by taking fastest lap and so his first BTCC overall point. Austin set the time (1:59.382) on lap two, he retired the Audi on lap three.
Dave Newsham will start from pole after the reverse grid draw, Mat Jackson, a multiple winner of the reverse grid finale races already this season, completing the front row.
Alex MacDowall writes an exclusive blog for theCheckeredflag.co.uk,
you can read all about his racing exploits here.