A fabulous third race British Touring Car Championship spectacle at Oulton Park was eventually won by Andrew Jordan, after taking advantage of a mistake from his own Eurotech team-mate in an enthralling encounter.
Jordan’s team-mate Jeff Smith started the race on pole position thanks to the reverse-grid system, but he spent most of the race battling hard with the Wix Racing Audi A4 of Rob Austin who surged through from third into the race lead around the outside of the Honda man at Old Hall.
While Ollie Jackson was the only man to take a trip through the scenery at Knickerbrook on the first lap, Smith immediately began pressuring Austin for the lead, trying on many occassions to find a way by exiting the hairpin, but the rear-wheel drive Audi had enough grunt to hang on down the back straight that followed each time.
After the pair’s crowd-pleasing fight saw Smith and Austin rubbing panels heading side-by-side down Cacades still in the early laps, the field soon became one huge train of cars lead by Austin, Dan Welch holding off Adam Morgan‘s Toyota for third spot having re-taken the place following a sluggish start from the front row.
In the fight saw the championship contenders all lined up and tripping over each other, Gordon Shedden suffering a puncture after contact following a move by his own team-mate Matt Neal into Old Hall, before championship leader Jason Plato then had his race ended by a dramatic fire in his Triple Eight MG, ending the prospect of a triple win at Cheshire for the former double champion.
The melee was assisted by Morgan squeezing inside Welch at Old Hall on the same lap, the hard compound tyre-wielding Proton eventually dropping down the field and out of contention in the squabbling, promoting Morgan to third ahead of Jordan and Colin Turkington.
Lap seven finally saw Smith make his lunge at Lodge on Austin, the Honda bumping its rival aside to take the lead as Austin slipped behind Morgan, Jordan and Turkington in the space of half a lap, Jordan then dispatching Morgan after the Ciceley Racing man and Smith began fighting over a potential maiden BTCC win.
That left Eurotech on course for a spectacular 1-2 finish, Smith keeping his team-mate at bay over the next few laps as Jordan sniffed around under braking for Lodge on occasions, team orders being left wisely out of the question.
However, the joy turned to despair for Smith as he got sideways heading into the Knickerbrook chicane with three laps to go, dropping to fifth as he fought to control the huge slide before he then spun the Pirtek Honda Civic off the road again half a lap later heading though Cascades, ending a great race in disappointing style for the Knockhill podium visitor from 2012.
Jordan carried on to gift the team his second win of the 2013 season by 1.3s from Turkington who fought up to second place in the eBay Motors BMW after a strong weekend, while behind them Morgan grimly fought off new championship leader Neal for third place, securing a well-deserved first podium of his BTCC career.
Austin held onto fifth place ahead of a sterling performance from his Wix Racing team-mate Will Bratt who evaded the chaos to seal a personal best sixth place having started 13th, while Sam Tordoff fought through from 21st on the grid to seventh in the star drive of the final race ahead of Nick Foster (eBay Motors BMW), Frank Wrathall (Dynojet Toyota) and Aron Smith (Motorbase Ford).
The Jack Sears Trophy this time went the way of Liam Griffin, Lea Wood being denied a hat-trick of S2000 class wins when he went off at Cascades, although not of his own accord.
Plato’s race three retirement means Neal now takes away a four-point championship lead from Oulton Park over Jordan, Plato seven points back as the series heads to Croft in North Yorkshire for rounds 13, 14 and 15 on June 22-23.