Jason Plato held on to double his Sunday win tally at Silverstone in race two, after an enthralling fight with championship leader Andrew Jordan.
The race one winner again made the perfect start to hang onto his pole position advantage for the opening lap despite a spirited challenge by the fast-starting Colin Turkington, while his MG KX Momentum Racing team-mate Sam Tordoff was slow away when the lights went off and slipped back to fourth.
Tordoff briefly dropped to fifth after a bump with Rob Collard at Luffield, but the MG man came back with a tap of his own, the eBay Motors BMW pitting with damage as the safety car emerged to clean up an accident between Rob Austin, Tom Onslow-Cole and Frank Wrathall at Becketts on the first lap.
Plato extended his lead on the restart, but the real challenge was to come from Jordan who was the quickest man on the circuit in race two thanks to a lighter Honda Civic running softer Dunlop tyres for the encounter, passing Matt Neal out of Copse on the restart.
Jordan’s next victim was Turkington, catching the BMW driver unaware at Copse just a corner after the Irishman was overtaken at Luffield by the MG of Tordoff.
Lap 11 saw the Eurotech Honda power up to second with superior grip coming out of Copse allowing him to take the place from Tordoff, Jordan’s blue Civic setting off in pursuit of Plato’s two-second lead.
With five laps to go the gap was non-existent, and Jordan squeezed up the inside of the MG6 heading into Becketts to grab the lead for the first time. Plato came back at the reigning Independent champion at Luffield with a friendly little nudge, drawing alongside and back into the lead as the pair rubbed panels through Woodcote corner.
Jordan returned the favour with a tap into Luffield, but Plato absorbed the pressure to come out the victor by just 0.244s for a hard-fought sixth win of the year, his 80th in BTCC, Jordan’s lead in the standings extending to 38 points.
“Of the 80 wins that I’ve had, that’s one of the hardest I’ve had to work for. It was an incredible battle with Andrew”, said Plato afterwards. “I needed to just suss out where I had to defend in the last few laps.”
Behind them, Aron Smith almost had the opportunity to win his first race of the year after a strong performance also running on the soft tyres. The Irishman made his way by both Airwaves team-mate Mat Jackson and the Ciceley Racing Toyota of Adam Morgan in one move at Becketts early in the race, then moved up to fifth ahead of Neal.
He quickly caught and passed Turkington and Tordoff at Copse corner, but could not unsettle the leaders on the last lap as he joined Plato and Jordan on the podium, his third of the season ahead of Tordoff and Turkington.
Neal was next up ahead of his battling Yuasa Racing Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden, Dave Newsham eighth ahead of Welch and Jackson who Shedden robustly both overtook at Luffield.
Howard Fuller finished a solid 11th for Team HARD, while Lea Wood survived a lap one half-spin after a touch with Warren Scott to catch and pass Liam Griffin for Jack Sears Trophy success once again.
Neal will start on pole position ahead of Turkington for race three, the top six finishers from the race to be reversed.
– Race three will take place at 17:17, and you can follow all the action with thecheckeredflag.co.uk and on Twitter with @tcfBTCC.