Tom Ingram held off a late charge from Dan Cammish to win the final Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Croft.
At the start, pole sitter Tom Chilton made a good getaway to lead the pack but fellow front row starter Cammish made a poor start and was immediately overtaken by Ingram. Matt Neal also made a good start and slotted into fourth position behind team-mate Cammish.
Further back, disaster struck once again for Colin Turkington who was clattered into by Ollie Jackson at the exit of the first corner, severely damaging his BMW. His chances of finishing in a points paying position had evaporated but he did manage to limp back to the pits and rejoined later in the race to claim the fastest lap and crucially the one point that goes with that accolade.
At the front, Ingram set about pressurising Chilton and swept past him at the Jim Clark Esses to claim the race lead halfway around the opening lap.
Ingram then built a decent lead as Cammish harassed Chilton for second. In fourth, Neal was playing the team game by backing Oliphant and the rest of the field up behind his heavy Honda to protect Cammish and safeguard his podium finish.
However, the field was then closed up, and Ingram’s advantage negated, as the safety car was deployed following a heavy shunt for Bobby Thompson. The Audi driver escaped unharmed as his car rolled numerous times at the entrance to the Jim Clark Esses.
When the race restarted Jake Hill passed Josh Cook to move into sixth as the midfield continued to bunch behind the wily Neal who was displaying a masterclass in defensive driving.
Ash Sutton’s charge from the rear of the grid had stalled somewhat just before the Safety Car period but once green flag racing resumed he hustled his way up to eighth.
On lap 13, Cammish finally found a way past Chilton with a late lunge at Tower. Although there was a small amount of contact, the two survived and Cammish set off in pursuit of Ingram.
Behind them, Oliphant defended really well for a number of laps but Sutton eventually squeezed through on the penultimate lap after they’d both passed Hill who made a mistake late on in his attempts to pass Neal.
By this point, Cammish had caught Ingram for the lead but he could not find a way through despite his best efforts, and Ingram held on to claim his third win of the season by less than three tenths of a second.
Chilton was a lonely third, ahead of Neal who just held off the hard charging Sutton for fourth.
Oliphant was sixth ahead of Hill and double race winner Cook who did well with maximum ballast. Senna Proctor and Aiden Moffat rounded out the top ten.
With six races remaining Sutton leads the championship from Cammish by just seven points, with Turkington a further five behind. Ingram sits 17 adrift of Turkington, 29 off the lead but with a maximum of 134 points still available, all four have a strong chance of claiming the title in what is shaping up to be an intriguing battle for overall honours.
The championship moves on to Snetterton in Norfolk in a fortnight for rounds 22, 23 & 24.