Jason Plato swam to victory in a sodden opening race at Brands Hatch, keeping his slim championship hopes alive.
The MG KX Momentum Racing driver made the perfect getaway to lead the way when the lights went out, while his team-mate Sam Tordoff lost out to Gordon Shedden‘s attacking Honda at Druids for the first time.
Behind them, the fast-starting Colin Turkington saw his title chances end before the second corner of the race.
Turkington, lying fourth in the championship, got his eBay Motors BMW 125i out of shape as team-mate Rob Collard drove around the outside of him, pitching Turkington into a spin at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend where the third WSR car of Nick Foster was helpless to avoid the Irishman who retired on the spot.
After an early safety car period to remove Rob Austin‘s WIX Racing Audi from the gravel following an off at Paddock, Plato kept Shedden’s Honda at bay for much of the 17-lap encounter.
The MG6 proved its improved wet weather pace as Plato set fastest lap for another bonus point on his way to victory by over five seconds for his seventh win of the season.
Second place kept Shedden in the championship fight – 39 points behind Andrew Jordan – Tordoff a distant third ahead of the battle for fourth place initially held by the championship leader.
A brief scare for Jordan came on lap seven when a sideways moment at Graham Hill Bend gifted fourth place to Tom Onslow-Cole, where he became within striking distance of his main championship rival Matt Neal who had charged through the pack from 16th on the grid in a repaired Honda Civic.
Onslow-Cole held onto fourth for the Independent class win despite Jordan pressuring him all the way, the Honda man’s fifth place leaving him with one hand on the title heading into race two, also clinching his second Independent’s title in a row.
Collard came out on top in a four-car dice to settle the rest of the top 10 positions, the BMW driver keeping Adam Morgan and the rest of the Airwaves Racing Ford squad at Bay, Mat Jackson and Aron Smith rounding out the top 10.
Smith’s drive was a star performance from the race, having started 25th and last after his accident in practice yesterday.
Home favourite Shaun Hollamby gave the AmDTuning.com Volkswagen Golf a perfect start to its final weekend, winning the S2000 class comfortably from Lea Wood who recovered past Liam Griffin after a big spin at Paddock Hill Bend.
“I’m delighted, the conditions are treacherous out there”, said Hollamby afterwards. “It just shows the enthusiasm of the whole team and all their hard work.“