Gordon Shedden took a forceful victory in the final BTCC race of the day at Snetterton, a race that featured the dramatic image of Jason Plato rolling his MG in a frenetic encounter.
Shedden took up second place behind Colin Turkington after the pair flew past pole-sitter Dave Newsham at the start, the Scot eventually taking the lead after a somewhat controversial move that ended with Turkington spinning out as Shedden took his third win of the year to keep himself in championship contention.
Turkington made the start of the season from row two as the eBay Motors BMW 125i darted between Newsham’s slow-starting Toyota and Shedden’s Honda, the Irishman storming into the lead before the race was neutralised by the safety car following a first lap full of incident.
Newsham and series leader Matt Neal came to blows twice on the opening lap, firstly colliding at Montreal hairpin before Newsham went into the back of the Yuasa Racing Honda under braking for Oggies, both flying off the road.
Behind them, even more dramatic scenes occurred as Plato’s KX Momentum Racing MG6 – starting from 22nd on the grid after a fuel pump issue robbed him of a possible win in race two – was spat off the road heading out of Hamilton and exited stage right into the barriers, bouncing into a monster barrell roll, Plato thankfully emerging unschathed from the shunt that will have brought back memories of Donington 2011.
On the restart following the clean up, further carnage took place at Riches that eliminated Will Bratt, Ollie Jackson and Dan Welch from solid positions, whilst Turkington at the front must have felt like it was deja vu as he was forced to defend hard from Shedden.
The reigning champion first tried a bold, but ultimately unsuccessful move around the outside at Montreal hairpin, before later trying a move under braking for Agostini hairpin on lap eight.
Contact was inevitable, and the Civic tagged its BMW rival into a spin, Shedden claiming the lead ahead of the flying Airwaves Racing Fords who also took advantage of the incident, while fifth-placed Rob Austin spun away what was a fine fifth place with a mistake at the complex.
After squeezing by Newsham into the first corner at the start, Mat Jackson now found himself moving into a safe second place a year after the NGTC Focus made its debut at the same 300 circuit, his team-mate Aron Smith moving up to third place but with Adam Morgan all over the back of him in the second half of the race.
Morgan’s desire to get by showed itself as he virtually pushed the blue Focus around the Snetterton circuit, Andrew Jordan keeping the pair honest before being overtaken at Riches by the flying MG of race one winner Sam Tordoff, the KX-backed driver having come from 17th on the grid to fifth after also dispatching the three eBay BMWs along the way.
As Jordan lost out to Turkington also, Tordoff turned his attentions to fourth placed-Morgan. The Toyota driver almost lost the place exiting the final corner with only a couple of laps remaining, but hung on as Smith began to break the pair of them ahead.
Shedden meanwhile cruised to his third win of the year, Mat Jackson claiming not only his first podium of the season – but leading a double podium celebration for David Bartrum‘s Airwaves/Motorbase squad as Smith came home third, Morgan fending off Tordoff for fourth.
Turkington finished a disappointed sixth, while Jordan took more points out of Neal’s championship lead despite the latter recovering to eighth place after his lap one dramas by squeezing ahead of Rob Collard and Nick Foster‘s BMWs.
A hat-trick of S2000 class wins went to Lea Wood, surviving an entertaining race which saw him dicing with some of the NGTC runners early in the race, extending his tally to nine wins to move further clear of four-time winner Liam Griffin.
Jordan now lies nine points behind Neal in the championship after Snetterton, third being held by Shedden who has closed to just 22 points behind his team-mate, while Turkington lies a further 25 points behind Shedden in fourth. The biggest loser from Snetterton proved to be Plato, who now drops to 50 points behind Neal with four events still remaining.
The next of those will take place much further North, rounds 19, 20 and 21 taking place at Knockhill circuit in Scotland on August 24-25.