Tom Ingram once again started the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in style by winning the opening race of the 2017 season at Brands Hatch.
The season attracted drama even before the first corner, the fast-starting Colin Turkington sustaining terminal left-rear suspension damage after contact with Matt Neal‘s Honda Civic.
Ingram meanwhile braved a move on pole-sitter Jeff Smith heading into Paddock Hill Bend, emerging ahead of the Eurotech Racing Honda Civic as the safety car made an appearance.
On the restart it was Ingram who was unchallenged for the remainder of the 27-lap race, repeating his feat of 12 months ago by winning the opening race of the season.
Smith’s defence was broken by Gordon Shedden on the third lap, the reigning champion braking later at Graham Hill Bend to move up to second.
That move began a downward spiral for Smith, who retired from the race after 15 laps. Morgan quickly moved by into third place a corner later, the Mercedes driver joining Ingram and Shedden on the podium.
Smith’s Eurotech team-mate Jack Goff meanwhile had a stellar first race for the Honda squad, finishing fourth after getting the better of Rob Austin‘s Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 20.
Behind Austin, Andrew Jordan was sixth on his first outing for West Surrey Racing, his BMW team-mate Rob Collard climbing eight places from 15th on the grid. Mat Jackson was another that climbed the field from an unfortunate Saturday, gaining six places to eighth for Team Shredded Racing Racing with Duo.
Michael Epps impressed with his best ever BTCC finish in ninth place for Team HARD, Tom Chilton finishing inside the top 10 on his return with Power Maxed Racing in the Vauxhall Astra.
Jason Plato finished as top Subaru in 12th place, while Jake Hill was victim to a bump in the rear of his Team HARD Volkswagen CC. Dave Newsham was another of the retirements as the BTC Norlin Racing Chevrolet Cruze lost a wheel heading through Graham Hill Bend.