A thrilling wet-dry second BTCC race at Croft saw Colin Turkington take his second win in two races, while MG’s wet tyre gamble cost them as Jason Plato finished a lap down.
Turkington held the field at bay around the first three corners, while eBay Motors team-mate Nick Foster made a super start to leap from fourth to briefly challenge for second place, only to slide wide at Hawthorn and drop to sixth.
Triple Eight opted bravely to run wet tyres as a heavy shower hit the circuit prior to the race, and the gamble looked to be paying off handsomely by Tower as Plato’s extra grip allowed him to dive into the lead past Turkington and Matt Neal in one swift late-braking move, Sam Tordoff also working his way through to second place by the time the field reached Sunny Out having started seventh.
The KX Momentum Racing pair began to make a break during the first three laps as conditions stayed damp, but the dry tyre pack of cars soon found their stride as the track surface dried out, Turkington closing in on the leaders as Gordon Shedden moved up behind him ahead of Neal and a charging Tom Onslow-Cole.
Turkington quickly made his way past Tordoff into the hairpin, and then half a lap later he was back at the front as he slithered past Plato into Sunny, Shedden following suit as the MGs began falling down the order rapidly while their tyres struggled for any grip at all.
Shedden immediately began to take the fight to the race one winner at the front, challenging the BMW man in twisty final sector of the circuit on numerous occasions. Turkington remained cool under pressure however, and hung on to take his third win of the year by 2.987s from the Scot.
“It was definitely more difficult, conditions were very tricky”, Turkington told thecheckeredflag.co.uk afterwards. “We started on slicks on a damp track; we had to hedge our bets and make a late call, but it was the right thing to do. We’re having a very strong weekend.”
Onslow-Cole made his way by Neal in the early squabbling during the first half of the race to emerge from the gloom in a superb third place in the Team HARD Volkswagen Passat CC, a position he successfully held onto by the time he reached the chequered flag for a well-deserved second podium finish of the season in the new NGTC machine.
Fourth place became a hard-fought dice between Neal, Andrew Jordan and the rest of the eBay Motors BMWs, Neal fending off late pressure from Jordan to seal fourth, while Rob Collard eased his way by Jordan at Tower following a rub with the Eurotech Honda coming through Hawthorn, Jordan handing back the spot to Collard after using the escape route through the chicane.
Foster followed the trio home in seventh, while Adam Morgan kept the group within his sights for the majority of the race to claim eighth place ahead of Jeff Smith‘s Eurotech Honda and the Speedworks Toyota of Dave Newsham, the Inverness driver having charged through the pack to reach a fine top 10 finish.
Elsewhere, the crowd were gifted a spectacular show from the Jack Sears Trophy drivers, David Nye holding on to take a maiden S2000 class win in a fabulous three-man fight for the spoils with Jake Hill and Lea Wood, Nye claiming the class win in his Welch Motorsport Ford Focus by less than half a second, while Wood snatched second from Hill on the race to the line by a mere 0.046s.
Plato and Tordoff meanwhile soon dropped out of contention in the first half of the race, Plato finishing down in 20th position and a lap down, while his Leeds-based team-mate Tordoff languished in 21st and last position, leaving them with it all to do in race three as Plato lost further vital championship points to his Honda rivals.
Michael Caine also chose to start on wet tyres, a decision which later did not matter as he retired from the race, Mat Jackson meanwhile also retiring his Motorbase Ford Focus with suspension damage.
The top eight drivers from the race will be reversed for the grid of Sunday’s third and final encounter, meaning Morgan will start from pole position in the final race of the day, Turkington starting eighth as he bids to make it a hat-trick of wins at Croft.