Gordon Shedden made the most of the Rockingham rain to take victory in the second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the day.
A downpour during the lunch break meant Jason Plato’s dominance in the dry conditions came to an end, the MG KX Momentum Racing man coming home in third as Matt Neal completed a Yuasa Honda Racing one-two – and now leads the title fight by just a solitary point from his teammate.
It was a point gained by the team’s tactical call to get Shedden – several seconds clear at the front – to slow and allow Neal to assume the lead as they crossed the line, and pick up an extra point in doing so.
Plato was swamped off the line as Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard got the best getaways, the MG, Honda and BMW going through turn one three abreast before Jordan eked his Civic in front at Deene. Collard followed him through into second and Shedden muscled his way past Plato for third at Chapman Curve, while Mat Jackson ran wide at the same corner.
Behind them, Dave Newsham ran straight on at turn two, while Andy Neate’s improved showing came to an abrupt and early end as he spun at the second corner, and then again on the exit of Tarzan, beaching it in the gravel and bringing out the safety car.
As the field regrouped after a hectic opening lap, Chris James spun his ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra under the safety car, and the action refused to let up when the race resumed.
Jordan caught the field napping to lead Shedden by one second over the line but went straight on at Deene, dropping to 11th, and Aron Smith enjoyed a storming restart to quickly move up to sixth – having gone from last to ninth in the first two laps.
Neal passed Plato for third but was nerfed at Chapman, dropping him behind Jackson, as Plato passed Collard. The BMW then dropped further back, Jackson and Neal getting by at Gracelands, the latter then making quick work of the Ford at the following corner, and then passed Plato again, making it stick this time.
Meanwhile Howard Fuller ran wide at Tarzan, quickly re-passing Jeff Smith on the turn one banking, as Smith and Wrathall scrapped over sixth and Ollie Jackson, impressing in the Golf, passed Tom Onslow-Cole for 10th. The BMWs were struggling after their strong early showings and Foster passed his teammate as Collard slipped behind Wrathall.
Smith was next up to try and pass Collard and the two were involved in a fantastic scrap, running side-by-side for half a lap from the second corner, Deene, right the way through to the exit of Tarzan, the Ford finally persevering at the Brook chicane. A lap later, with Adam Morgan close behind, Collard spun at the same corner – contact with the Toyota dropping him down a couple of places – as Fuller, impressing in only his second BTCC race, tried to pass Foster for 11th.
Jackson then made a move on Morgan to take 8th, the Golf enjoying a rare foray in to the top ten, as Bratt moved into 13th before retiring his Audi, which had only made it out the garage at the last minute, shortly after at Deene.
Jordan’s recovery after his mistake at the restart halted when he reached Smith in sixth, when Honda pulled off their tactical switch with a couple of laps to go.
The pair were several seconds clear of Plato as Shedden took the flag, with Mat Jackson again fourth in the Focus, and Wrathall a strong fifth. Smith beat Jordan to take sixth while Jackson, Morgan – who will start the reversed grid race from pole – and Foster rounding out the top ten.