Steven Kane has sensationally taken his first ever win in the BTCC and with it Motorbase Performance’s first ever 1-2 finish in the series, as Mat Jackson followed him home in second.
Rob Collard led away from pole in the late afternoon sun at Thruxton but was taken out of the race as the hard charging Matt Neal attempted to pass him on the outside heading into the chicane at the end of the lap. The move spelled the end of both driver’s races, with Collard spinning into the barrier on the outside of the track and Neal forced out with left-front damage.
With the retirements of the early leaders the stage was set for Kane to take the lead, one which he did not lose thereafter despite plenty of pressure from Jackson which will have no doubt made team boss Dave Bartrum on the pit wall nervous. After receiving surely one of the stickiest champagne showers of his life, Kane said: “I felt confident I could do well, but, I pushed so hard chasing and trying to pass Collard my tyres were gone. Once he went out I knew I could do it, but Mat was on my tail and it was tough. The team have been amazing and I want to thank them. I kicked up a gear and my first win in the BTCC means the world.”
Jason Plato finished on the final step of the poidum and with it took second in the drivers championship standings after a consistent day in the new-to-the-BTCC Chevrolet Cruze. The experienced Plato, runner up in last year’s championship, is clearly taking a long-term view of the season and was happy to have met his targets. “I set myself a target of 30 points and came away with 31,” said the 2001 champion. “Our championship campaign starts in earnest at Rockingham – there, we’ll be really going for it.”
Race one polesitter Gordon Shedden made the best of a tough day by finishing in fourth and displaying real pace, the Honda driver having suffered in race two with a low grid position as a result of his race one puncture.
Thruxton master Fabrizio Giovanardi was unable to add to his earlier two wins of the day and finished in fifth but he still leaves the Hampshire venue as the championship leader – despite not knowing if he’ll be able to continue in the series next time out at Rockingham.
Paul O’Neill finished in sixth as his strong from continued in the third race, despite carrying some 27kg of success ballast. He headed the two Ford Focus’ of Tom Onslow-Cole and Tom Chilton across the line as the Team Aon drivers finally picked up their first points of the season in what can only be described as a disappointing initial weekend for the team that showed so much pace at the end of 2009.
“We expected not just better results, but good results,” said Arena (Team Aon) boss Mike Earle. “We’ve had an issue with the unique tyre that everyone has to run here at Thruxton. “It could have been a very different weekend if we had finished the first race with both cars in the top five and not had to carry out a major rebuild of Tom Chilton’s damaged car.”
Alex MacDowall, 9th, and David Pinkney, 10th, again continued to score points as they rounded out the top ten.