Jason Plato took victory in a chaotic first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Brands Hatch GP circuit, but Colin Turkington wrapped up his second BTCC championship with a podium finish.
The 18-lap race started in high drama, Turkington making a sensational start from fourth on the grid as the West Surrey Racing BMW 125i shot around the outside of both the Triple Eight MGs to lead into the first bend.
Turkington was quickly disposed of by Sam Tordoff into Druids with a tighter line, pole-sitter Jason Plato also slotting back ahead of his rival into second place.
Behind all this, Gordon Shedden entered the first corner sideways after contact with Fabrizio Giovanardi‘s Ford Focus, after which the Audi A4 of Rob Austin was one of many to slam into the back of the Honda Civic Tourer. Jack Goff’s BMR Racing Volkswagen CC was bounced onto two wheels with heavy damage also, one of several lap one retirements as a result.
Hunter Abbott and Matt Neal also came together in the melee and ended as retirements, the safety car brought out to clean up the mess. The news afterwards came the Neal was airlifted to hospital regarding an existing rub injury.
Tordoff led his team-mate around on the restart, before the anticipated swap between the two MGs took place on the back straight on lap eight.
Turkington held station in third place having staved off attention from Mat Jackson‘s Airwaves Racing Ford Focus, a fastest lap enough to put him out of contention in the championship hunt.
Plato picked up his sixth win of 2014 in a Triple Eight one-two, while behind them it was Turkington who completed the podium to wrap up his second BTCC title.
“This is Colin’s time, he should enjoy because he deserves the championship this year”, Plato graciously said afterwards. “It brings back all the emotions I use to feel, so it’s great to see.”
Turkington himself said: “I only got confirmation when I pulled up on the weybridge. The emotion is hard to describe, you try to be relaxed and confident and do the same things, but underneath the pressure was there.
“That race was very reminiscent of 2009. You never get anything handed on a plate in the BTCC, I thought on lap one around the outside “what are you doing” but I got a good start and had to go with it. I tried to race, and give Sam a race, but he was defending hard so I backed off in the last few laps, I was safe to those behind and stroked it home.”
Jackson was next up in fourth spot ahead of Morgan’s Mercedes Ciceley Racing A-Class, but the real charge of the race came from Rob Collard, who emerged from 23rd on the grid in ninth exiting the first corner kerfuffle, passing Nick Foster, James Cole and then Giovanardi, taking the latter at Westfield.
Seventh place was held initially by Cole’s United Autosports Toyota Avensis, but his race ended in tears after he collected his team-mate Luke Hines when the latter was tipped into a spin at Graham Hill Bend by Marc Hynes.
Giovanardi salvaged seventh place ahead of Tom Ingram‘s Speedworks Toyota, Andrew Jordan moving up from 15th to ninth place on the day he hands over his championship crown ahead of Nick Foster.
Foster was involved in contact with the Volkswagen of Warren Scott, sending Scott spearing into the bridge at Hawthorn Hill as BMR endured a damaging encounter.
Aron Smith charged through from 26th to 11th in the fourth BMR Volkswagen, while Dave Newsham was involved in a tangle with Chris Stockton at Stirlings.