Colin Turkington extended his British Touring Car Championship lead with a commanding lights-to-flag victory in round 13 of the season at Croft.
The West Surrey Racing driver made the perfect getaway despite an aborted start prolonging the tension, and extended his lead over the fast-starting Gordon Shedden to claim his fifth win of the season.
The BMW driver left Jason Plato behind on the grid as the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save BTCC Team driver dropped to third place behind Shedden’s Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer.
Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal suffered a moment in the bottleneck that took place at Hawthorn, while Rob Austin‘s race was effectively destroyed by a spin in the kerfuffle heading into the right hander.
Turkington and Shedden began to immediately gap the field and left Plato fighting a gutsy rear-guard action for the remainder of the 14-lapper against Rob Collard, Andrew Jordan and the recovering Neal.
Turkington’s lead ended at a comfortable 7.4s over his nearest championship rival Shedden on his way to a comfortable victory, his eighth in his last four visits to Croft.
Collard could not find a way around the very wide MG of former double BTCC champion Plato, who hung on for the final podium position despite Collard nibbling at a gap heading through Hawthorn on the penultimate lap.
Jordan finished fifth in their wake ahead of Neal’s Civic Tourer, the latter having made his way by Alain Menu‘s Volkswagen Passat and then the second MG of Sam Tordoff at the hairpin on lap three.
Tordoff was later pushed back to ninth place as Menu squeezed by at the Esses in the closing laps, Mat Jackson following him into eighth while the top 10 was rounded out by the Audi A4 of the impressive Hunter Abbott.
Dave Newsham finished 11th away from the chaos in his AmD Ford Focus on a weekend he celebrates 100 BTCC races, ahead of Fabrizio Giovanardi while Austin recovered from his spin with an aggressive charge through the pack to 13th.
The midfield pace was the scene of many incidents and squabbles, starting with Nick Foster and Jack Goff firing off at the chicane on lap one. Goff recovered to 19th despite a further knock with Jack Clarke‘s Ford Focus into the Complex, while the BMW of Foster was a retirement.
Tom Ingram made initial progress past Aron Smith and Giovanardi, but soon slipped back to the final points-paying position of 15th, pipped to the line by the second Pirtek Racing Honda Civic of Martin Depper who made it into the points from 24th.
The second BTCC race of the day gets underway at 14:39 and you can follow all the action with www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk and on Twitter via @tcfBTCC.