Aron Smith took his and the Chrome Edition Restart Racing squadâ€™s second win of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in a dramatic reversed-grid finale at Snetterton.
Smith started from pole and narrowly held the lead from the Airwaves Racing Ford Focuses of former double champion Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mat Jackson. The top three stayed close during the early laps, but held position while the excitement kicked off behind.
Adam Morganâ€™s WIX Racing Mercedes A-class initially held fourth, but he was edged wide as Matt Nealâ€™s Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer came by at Agostini on lap two. Championship leader Colin Turkingtonâ€™s eBay Motors BMW followed Neal through and then attacked immediately attacked the triple-champion ahead of him.
Neal defended strongly, while his title-contending team-mate Gordon Shedden recovered from a slightly poor first lap, running eighth behind Morgan and double Snetterton winner Jason Plato (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save). Eventually, Turkington touched Nealâ€™s Honda under braking for Agostini and set off after the lead trio. Neal recovered but would finish 11th.
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Jason Plato has scored his second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship win of the day at Snetterton after getting the better of Colin Turkington in a race-long battle.
The eBay Motors BMW of Turkington soared into the lead as the 31 flame-spitting tin tops approached Riches for the first time as Plato tucked his MG6 in behind the championship leader.
The race was neutralised shortly after as Alain Menuâ€™s VW was fired off into the barrier at the exit of turn one, bringing out the safety car. Fabrizio Giovanardi and Andrew Jordan has already continued with their respective progress towards the front by that point, both finding themselves inside the top ten at the restart.
Such delight was short lived for reigning supremo Jordan, however, as he sized up a battle between the BMW of Rob Collard and VW of Jack Goff ahead of him. The duo had already touched earlier in the lap and when two became three on the run through Brundle, something had to give. Unfortunately for Jordan it was his car on the outside of the turn that was forced off the track and into a spin. He later recovered to finish 15th but has since been ruled out of race three by the BTCC medical team (see separate story).
Further incident followed down the order as Jack Clarkeâ€™s Ford Focus jinked left to miss Martin Depperâ€™s Pirtek Honda scything down his inside, but in doing so Clarke made contact with Warren Scottâ€™s VW. Rob Hollandâ€™s Audi also went off in a separate incident.
Meanwhile up front and Shedden had made his way by Adam Morganâ€™s Mercedes before all three podium positions changed on the same lap. Plato slipped down the inside of Turkington at Montreal and Shedden was seemingly let through by his ballast laden team-mate Matt Neal at the same corner. Turkington kept Plato honest throughout â€“ often less than half a second behind the MG â€“ but the king of Snetterton held on to complete his double.
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MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save driver Jason Plato has claimed his second BTCC victory of the season after leading the opening race at Snetterton from start-to-finish.
Championship leader Colin Turkington extended his advantage in the standings by taking second ahead of Honda Yuasa Racingâ€™s Matt Neal. Adam Morgan was just over a second away from scoring a maiden podium for the new-for-2014 WIX Racing Mercedes A Class as he closely followed home Nealâ€™s Honda Civic Tourer.
Sam Tordoffâ€™s race day commenced in a rather dramatic and unwanted fashion as the second-row starter suffered with brake failure going into Riches on the opening lap. Contact followed behind as his MG6 slowly rejoined the track, which played its part in a further clash with Dave Newshamâ€™s Ford Focus and the eBay Motors BMW of Nick Foster.
There was one more significant incident before the end of the opening tour when Jack Goffâ€™s VW tagged the MG of Marc Hynes in a battle at the lower end of the top ten. Hynesâ€™ race wouldnâ€™t get any less frenetic as late contact with the Proton of Daniel Welch put paid to the formerâ€™s recovery drive through the order, whilst STP Racingâ€™s Welch retired in the pitlane.
Plato and Turkington pulled away at the head of the field as Alain Menu slotted his VW into third during the early running. Meanwhile Neal was busy making his way by the fast-starting Tom Ingram before making relative light work of Menu ahead of him. The three-time champion made his own getaway as a quite bizarre fight for fourth followed him.
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