Gordon Shedden fired his title defence into life with victory in the first British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) race of the day at Donington Park.
The reigning champion – who had a disastrous opening round at Brands Hatch save for a race three podium – controlled the race beautifully, leading from pole in his Yuasa Honda and controlling the ballast-laden similar Pirtek car of Andrew Jordan.
Matt Neal completed an all-Civic podium in his 499th BTCC race, while championship leader Jason Plato bested the rapid Toyotas of Adam Morgan and Frank Wrathall – who were sandwiched by Plato’s teammate Sam Tordoff – to take fourth.
Shedden’s victory was not assured on the opening lap but it set him well on his way, heading the pack into Redgate as the rest squabbled behind.
Wrathall pressured Plato early on as Tordoff’s second MG sought to fend off Morgan, who slipped behind him at the start. Just ahead of the slick-shod Motorbase Focus of Mat Jackson, Dave Newsham – not as fast as the sister Avensis’s of Morgan and Wrathall – looked to depose Colin Turkington of 8th.
Shedden had steadily extended his gap to Jordan out front as the race progressed but as Neal’s attentions shifted to the MG of Plato lurking behind, Jordan broke free and began to close in on the Scot.
Despite closing to within a few tenths, Jordan settled for second, leaving Shedden to claim a 30th BTCC win, with Neal finishing a second clear of Plato in fourth.
Morgan took fifth ahead of Tordoff, with Wrathall slipping back to seventh at the flag, ahead of the scrapping Turkington and Newsham.
Jeff Smith completed the top ten after passing Aron Smith on the final lap; fighting back after a disappointing opening part of the race where he had scrapped for a while with Tom Onlsow-Cole, who managed a credible 13th in the ever-improving Volkswagen CC.
Smith was the top soft-compound runner, finishing in 11th, just ahead of his Motorbase teammate Jackson.
James Kaye continued his strong S2000 weekend with victory in the Jack Sears Trophy.