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Fabrizio Giovanardi wins season opener

Fabrizio Giovanardi has made the perfect start to his BTCC season by winning the opening race of the day at Thruxton. The Italian, who started from second, only announced his one-meeting deal two days ago. Since then he has been on fine form at Thruxton and he ran second in the race until early leader Gordon Shedden suffered a high-speed crash on lap 7. Giovanardi inherited the lead and eased to a comfortable win thereafter.

Jason Plato finished in second on Chevrolet’s debut in the BTCC as a manufacturer team after inheriting positions where the early Honda challenge fell away. Matt Neal had been running in second but he suffered a similar fate to team-mate Shedden as a puncture demoted him to finishing 12th.

Mat Jackson also benefited from the misfortunes of those around him and wound up third by the end of the race on his debut for Airwaves BMW.

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The full race results can be viewed by clicking this link.

Paul O’Neill pleased the Thruxton fans by finishing in a well deserved fourth place, once again proving the potential of the Honda Integra in good hands around the Hampshire circuit. O’Neill benefitted from the punctures of the Honda and Team Aon squads to start his season in strong form.

Tom Onslow-Cole had been running in fourth after a good start, but the Focus driver soon began to hold up those behind him as the lack of pace of the car around certain parts of the circuit began to show. A puncture on lap 14 dropped him down the order and after a pitstop he finished in 13th. Tom Chilton had suffered a similar fate a lap earlier but fared less lucky, ending up crashing into the tyre barrier.

Tom Boardman finished an impressive fifth on his return to the BTCC and his first race in the main class of the championship, whilst Phil Glew beat his chief rival of 2009 Alex MacDowall in both driver’s debut race in the championship. They crossed the line in 6th and 7th respectively.

Dave Pinkney took one of his best finishes in recent seasons by finishing in eighth in his first race in the Vauxhall Vectra, also making him the first driver to score points with the new turbocharged NGTC engine. John George and Andy Neate rounded out the top 10 in a race that had a high attrition rate due mainlyto Thruxton’s notoriously hard nature on tyres.

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