Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and James Nash shared the spoils at Rockingham.
Race 1: Jason Plato won the first race at the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire but Matt Neal reclaimed the series lead.
Reigning Champion Plato, starting from pole position, led every lap in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze for his sixth victory of the season and the 66th of his illustrious career.
Second was fellow Chevrolet driver, GoMobileUK.com with tech-speed’s Paul O’Neill, who held the position throughout and third, setting the fastest race lap, Frank Wrathall in his NGTC-spec Dynojet Toyota Avensis.
It was the battle for third that was the most exciting of a race that was littered with incidents: Gordon Shedden held the spot until the closing stages when he was caught by Wrathall and his own Honda Racing team-mate Neal. The latter was able to squeeze by Wrathall only for the Toyota driver to then re-pass the Honda and then, on the penultimate lap, move past Shedden as well to secure the final podium position.
Race 2: Gordon Shedden won the second race of the day to move back into the series lead. Shedden, starting from sixth on the grid in his Honda Racing Civic, was soon up to second and then able to pass Jason Plato for the lead.
From there the Scotsman was never headed but he didn’t have it easy as his mirrors were full of the rapid Frank Wrathall’s Dynojet Toyota Avensis all the way to the chequered flag.
Wrathall finished second – the best result to date for him, his team and a car built to the BTCC’s latest Next Generation Touring Car regulations. Third was Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal as Plato, his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze handicapped with the maximum 45kgs of success ballast, fell to fourth.
The result means that Shedden has regained the championship lead by five points from Neal who’d briefly moved into the top spot following race one. Plato is third, some 31 points adrift of Shedden.
"The Civic was on a mission. From the fourth lap it felt dynamite," said Shedden, who also set the race’s fastest lap en route to his fifth win of the season. He added: "It’s an abrasive track here so in addition to keeping an eye out for Frank I had to keep it smooth to preserve the tyres."
Race 3: James Nash achieved his first race win at his home circuit. Newport Pagnell racer Nash, driving the 888 Racing with Collins Contractors team’s Vauxhall Vectra, clung on to win today’s third race ahead of the ever-present Rob Austin in his Rob Austin Racing Audi A4.
The result means that the 888 team’s record of winning at least one race every season since 1998 remains intact. Nash becomes the eighth different driver to win this year, while Austin’s second place marks his first podium result in the BTCC.
Having been passed by GoMobileUK.com with tech-speed’s Paul O’Neill in the mid-stages, Robert Collard fought back in his WSR BMW to re-pass the Chevrolet driver and grab third position.
Jason Plato, setting the race’s fastest lap, took fifth ahead of Matt Neal in his Honda Racing Civic – Neal left it until the last corner to get alongside Jeff Smith’s Pirtek Vauxhall Vectra and take the position by just 0.028s in the sprint to the line.
The five points scored by Neal mean he and Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden are now tied for the championship lead. Shedden could only finish 21st after his Civic struggled a collision with Collard’s team-mate Nick Foster’s BMW left his Civic struggling for pace. Meanwhile Plato, third in the title race, has closed the gap to the championship leaders from 35 to 24 points.
Smith’s team-mate Andrew Jordan finished the race in eighth ahead of Frank Wrathall’s Dynojet Toyota Avensis. Tom Boardman headed a train of cars to complete the top ten.
Notably, Nash's win means he now comfortably leads Independents Trophy from Mat Jackson, as does 888/Collins the Independent teams' championship. He is now also only one point behind fourth-placed Jackson in the outright drivers' championship after the latter, for the second event in a row, failed to score in any of the three races.
Highlights coming soon
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