Colin Turkington extended his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship lead to 37 points, following a lights-to-flag victory in race one at Rockingham.
The West Surrey Racing BMW of the points leader stormed into an early lead following a much better start than the Triple Eight MGs around him, heading the field around lap one of 18.
Pole-sitter Sam Tordoff however stayed firm in his attack and pressured the Northern Irishman for the top spot in the opening laps, Turkington hanging on and extending his gap with the race’s ultimate fastest lap on lap three – and a crucial extra point – after rebuffing the MG man’s second-lap challenge.
Turkington endured a safety car interruption on lap three after a fairly substantial shunt at Deene hairpin between Lea Wood and Warren Scott, the latter struck by a backwards Wood heading into the tight right-hander at unabated speed.
The restart saw Tordoff take a small look inside Turkington into the hairpin, but the BMW driver held on and soon extended his cushion to 3.3s as he claimed his seventh win of the year to extend his championship lead.
Tordoff and team-mate Jason Plato rounded out the podium, while the charge of the race was certainly the one made by fourth place man, Alain Menu, who recovered from a poor getaway having started eighth.
The former double BTCC champion climbed ahead of the battling Airwaves Racing Ford Focuses of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mat Jackson, who made contact at Tarzan when the Italian recovered from a moment at Gracelands on the restart lap.
Menu continued to make progress thanks to his pace on the softer compound tyre, the BMR Racing Volkswagen CC soon dispatching Marc Hynes at Tarzan, then championship leader Gordon Shedden around the outside under braking for the chicane in the second half of the race.
Reigning champion Andrew Jordan was next on his list and he powered by the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic on the main straight several laps later, then sealed fourth place on the penultimate tour with a neat cutback overtake on Adam Morgan‘s Ciceley Racing Mercedes which claimed a solid fifth place.
Shedden lost out to a charging Giovanardi late in the race at Tarzan also, the Honda Yuasa Racing driver losing valuable championship points after contact from an attempt to pass Plato up the inside at Pif Paf which saw him recovering from a lurid sideways moment.
Jackson finished ninth ahead of Jack Goff, who came out top of a fierce battle late in the race between himself, Rob Austin and Rob Collard. Hynes meanwhile endured a rough second half to his race, slipping down the pack before being collected by Austin’s Audi at Yentwood.
Matt Neal was also then involved as the MG returned from the grass into his path, the triple champion finishing 17th following the incident after a messy opening lap also which saw Aron Smith eased off the road in the Deene hairpin scramble.
Hunter Abbott‘s charge from the rear of the grid saw him climb from 31st on the grid up into the points, finishing 14th.
Race two gets underway at 13:52, and you can follow the action this weekend with The Checkered Flag and via @tcfBTCC.