There was drama on the grid ahead of the second race at Croft as reigning champion Matt Neal’s Honda Civic was pushed into the pitlane after it developed a vibration on the out-lap.
Colin Turkington started strongly from pole position, as did Gordon Shedden from second. Neal’s gap on the grid left Darren Turner in third for SEAT, with Mike Jordan fourth. Mat Jackson leapt from ninth on the grid up to fifth on the opening lap
Turkington’s lead lasted until lap four, when the Team RAC driver ran wide at Tower, handing control of the race to Shedden. Both Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato passed Mike Jordan to move into the top five.
The end of lap five saw Darren Turner pass Colin Turkington to go second. Jason Plato then made the same move, but this time it resulted in a spin for Turkington at the hairpin. As Turkington’s BMW spun, it collected Fabrizio Giovanardi’s Vectra, which stalled in the process. As Giovanardi got going again, he collected the unfortunate Matt Allison, whose race, for the third time in a row, was ended through no fault of his own.
The chaos at the hairpin was enough to bring the safety car out on track, while the marshals collected the debris.
Turkington retired, commenting, “One of the cars lower down the field obviously had an engine problem and dropped some oil on the track. I was the first one there and there were no flags, so I ran wide. Then I got hit by the two SEATs at the complex. It’s impossible to hold a rear-wheel drive when it gets a tap like that, and the SEATs know that. They obviously purposely tried to hit me off.”
The race restarted on lap nine, with Turner leading, albeit briefly, as teammate Plato took over at the front. Shedden was running third, with Mike Jordan fourth and Tom Chilton fifth. Mat Jackson was running sixth, ahead of the impressive Chris Stockton. Stockton’s best run of the season was cut short when he was sent flying off track by Tom Onslow-Cole on the approach to Barcroft. Stockton went off on the inside, and just seconds later, Martyn Bell ran off on the outside of the track, brying his BMW in the tall crops. Much to the amusement of the Croft crowd, Bell was able to drive back onto the track, having harvested some of the North Yorkshire crops with his wing mirror.
At the front, Plato continued to lead from Turner, but it was now Mike Jordan in third. Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic had picked up a steering problem, which dropped him down through the pack before he retired. With just a couple of laps remaining, Tom Chilton was also forced to retire from fourth when his Vauxhall Vectra developed a gearbox problem.
The order seemed settled at the front as the pack approached the chequered flag, only for Plato to allow Turner through to take the win as the pair exited the hairpin for the final time.
Plato said, “We were a bit fortunate really. There were cars going off all over the place and we were in the right place at the right time. I got past Gordon [Shedden] and then it was a 1-2 for SEAT. After the restart, the team decided to let me through to get the point for leading the race, then on the final lap I let Darren back through for the win. It’s a great result for the team – it’s just a shame they didn’t let us have a race together!”
Behind the two SEATs. Mike Jordan (Team Eurotech) finished third, with Mat Jackson (Jacksons M.Sport) fourth and Gareth Howell (Motorbase Performance) fifth.
Fabrizio Giovanardi finished sixth, ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole and Jason Hughes in seventh and eighth respectively. John George and Chris Stockton completed the top ten.The only other finishers were Jim Pocklington, Martyn Bell and Matt Neal, who eventually started the race from the pitlane.
Following the race, Darren Turner spun the number nine on the BTCC’s very own wheel of fortune, putting John George on pole for the final race of the day.