MG’s Jason Plato took his third win of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship season, beating poleman Frank Wrathall away from the line in the opening race at Snetterton.
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Having taken his first-ever BTCC pole position on Saturday, Dynojet’s Wrathall was jumped by both Plato and Dave Newsham at the start of the race. Plato led from the opening lap and had to withstand heavy pressure from ES Racing’s Newsham, who lost out to Wrathall on the ninth lap after attempting to pass Plato.
On the final lap Newsham was passed by Andrew Jordan after the Pirtek Racing driver tapped him at Nelson. Eventually Newsham would be excluded from his fourth place finish due to failing a post-race weight check.
Newsham’s exclusion allowed Matt Neal to finish in fourth and limit the damage to his championship lead. Neal had never been in contnetion for a podium finish during the race, and eventually finished 13 seconds behind the race winner as he carried the maximum 45 kg for leading the championship heading into the first race.
Daniel Welch followed up on his best-ever BTCC finish last time out at Croft with a fine fifth-placed finish, ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole in the eBay Motors BMW.
After his problems on Saturday, Gordon Shedden came from the back of the grid to finish in eighth. The Scot had suffered a fire in first practice, and was then unable to set a time in qualifying due to electrical problems with his Honda Civic.
Taking a strong eighth place on his car’s first competitive outing was Redstone Racing’s Mat Jackson. His Motorbase Performance team worked tirelessly through the night on Friday to prepare his new NGTC Ford Focus and were duly rewarded with a strong showing from the man in sixth in the standings.
Lea Wood and Jeff Smith completed the top ten in their Vauxhall Vectra and Honda Civics respectively.
Rob Collard had been running in ninth until the final lap of the race, when he pulled off with apparent mechanical problems.
BTCC debutant Robb Holland went out of the race on the second lap after he made contact with Adam Morgan at Riches. The duo crashed into the tyre barriers, with the American’s car perched on the barriers, forcing a four-lap safety car period early in the race.