Jason Plato received a double penalty after the stewards judged him the guilty party in two incidents during the third of three races at Snetterton.
Plato took the lead of the race from reverse grid-winner Chris Smiley on the first lap, but was under constant pressure from a chasing pack, led by his former Subaru team mate Ash Sutton.
The pair battled for what seemed like forever, swapping paint several times as the crowd collectively held its breath.
Plato and Sutton went side-by-side on lap five before the latter eventually slipped through two tours later. Further contact followed and Plato’s Astra recaptured the lead at Agostini.
The chasing pack was closing in with myriad changes taking place as the likes of Butcher and Josh Cook had scythed their way through from 12th and 15th on the grid respectively.
The race was building towards an exciting climax when Plato, Sutton and Butcher went three-wide down the back straight and that simply wouldn’t work going into Brundle’s. A heart-stopping moment followed as Butcher carved his way down the inside of both, as Plato ran wide and slid into Sutton’s Subaru.
The Levorg was tipped into a spin while Plato also lost ground, and suddenly it was Butcher’s Honda sailing away to take his second win of the season.
Plato was given a 5 second penalty for contact with Smiley, and a further 10 seconds for the incident with Sutton. That dropped him to 17th in the race classification.
BTC Racing duo of Cook and Smiley took a comfortable second and third respectively, with the latter being the only driver to score a podium on the hard tyre.
On Saturday, Tom Ingram sealed a first pole position for the new Corolla, and he duly converted that success into a second race win of the season in race 1.
While Ingram’s first victory of 2019 came in the reversed-grid race at Donington Park, this was the first time the car had been the pace-setter from the outset. The Bucks ace fended off Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish in the early running but last year’s Championship runner-up gradually stretched his legs to win by more than three seconds.
Cammish claimed a lonely second whilst Sam Tordoff completed the podium positions in his Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Honda Civic Type R.
Championship leader Colin Turkington started his race day with a steady fourth place finish, before nipping by race one winner Ingram to take victory in the second encounter.
It was the tenth victory so far in 2019 for the WSR-run BMWs – a record number achieved by the Surrey outfit in a single season – while a rostrum for stablemate Andrew Jordan meant the team also secured a 200th podium for the WSR/BMW partnership.
Cammish made it two successive second place finishes as he showed stellar pace in the manufacturer-backed Honda Civic Type R (FK8).
At the conclusion of the action, Turkington had extended his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ standings with BMW stable-mate Jordan now 36 points in arrears.
BMW and Team BMW top the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ order, whilst Rory Butcher and his Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance squad leads both Independents’ tables, as well as the Jack Sears Trophy.
Tom Ingram said: “That was just how I wanted it to go (in race one). I was happy to try and get a gap at the start and manage it from there. I was more than happy to make it a boring race for me! We’ve made a massive step forward at the test. It was so important for us. The way that the BTCC works over a race weekend, time is so tight and you can’t try the things you’d like to. The team have worked so hard to get every single last bit out of it. It was better there than the Avensis ever was, and if we’re there already – it’s a real good sign.”
Colin Turkington said: “That was the plan. I wasn't confident beforehand as in the BTCC you never know. You should be faster on the softs but you can never be sure. I knew it was switched on from turn one and I had to be patient to make the right move and get the traction on exit from the 3 Series BMW. I don't think it's any more than I did in 2014. The 1 Series was very strong back then too. The guys made a decision to up the game still for this year. We wanted to be better and we built a faster car - we're reaping the rewards.”
Rory Butcher said: “Once I took the lead I thought ‘this is going to happen on the road’. I wasn’t going to lose that one there. I’ve struggled this weekend with the car and the track. We flipped it on its head in terms of set-up for race three and it worked! There were so many opportunities where Ash (Sutton) almost got by Jason (Plato). I wondered how long I could do it for and I held my breath under the bridge! It was a massive relief when I came out in front. I’m so happy for the team. I’ve kept my championship alive with that win.”