Jack Goff fended off late pressure and survived contact with Ash Sutton to win the opening British Touring Car Championship race at a wet Snetterton in a virtual dead heat.
After making a level start the WIX Racing with Eurotech driver held the advantage on the run through Riches for the first time, with Sutton blasting his Subaru Levorg GT through from the fifth row to seize second.
Initially Goff’s Honda Civic Type R looked to have the measure of the reigning Champion with a 3.1 second advantage at half distance, but gradually Sutton fought back and the two started their final tour of the 2.99 mile circuit split by just five tenths.
The former employed a defensive strategy, forcing Sutton to the outside before acceleration to take full advantage of his superior straight line speed, but cornering proved the Subaru’s forte and the two were still inseparable heading into Nelson.
That could have proved the difference; Goff’s rear end stepped out as his tyres began to fade, but crucially Sutton took too much kerb and an opportunity to take the inside line went begging.
Instead, the 24-year old took to the outside of Coram and looked to have secured a last-gasp victory on the inside of Murrays, but contact between the pair as Goff retaliated left Sutton a little ragged on the exit, giving the former the chance he needed.
The pair took the chequered flag split by 0.152 seconds in Goff’s favour – his second win of the campaign, and one that moves him up to third in the points standings.
That came about largely as a result of drama for several other championship contenders.
The race was barely 100 metres old before Team BMW’s Colin Turkington was pitched sideways by Tom Chilton and into Tom Oliphant, sending the BMW 1-series around.
He would eventually finish 15th, made less of a disaster by a retirement for main rival Tom Ingram, who pulled off at Nelsons with a suspected mechanical issue.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish edged out Josh Cook’s Vauxhall Astra to seize the final spot on the rostrum, with Sam Tordoff rounding out the top five sporting a distinctive pink livery in celebration of the BTCC’s 60th Anniversary celebrations.
Adam Morgan and Rob Austin came to blows in dispute of sixth, but the rear end of Morgan’s Mercedes A-Class let him down at Williams, pitching him across the grass and gently into the barriers.
Austin’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta duly took the spoils, with Brett Smith seventh.
Tom Oliphant continued despite the contact with Turkington and took eighth ahead of Dunlop Forever Forward winner for Round 16, Dan Lloyd.
His BTC Norlin Racing team mate Chris Smiley made it a double points score for the outfit behind the recovering Morgan in 11th.
Andrew Jordan was the leading works BMW in 12th, with Rob Collard forced into retirement with right-front damage after the first corner.
Chilton eventually found a way past the sister Team Dynamics-run Honda of Neal for 13th, with the aforementioned Turkington taking the final point.
It proved to be a race of high attrition in the treacherously wet conditions, with around a quarter of the field failing to take the finish.
That included second row starter Matt Simpson after going wide at Wilson, whilst Rory Butcher, Mike Bushell, Senna Proctor and Ollie Jackson all fell by the wayside, the latter after contact with Jason Plato at the start sent both into the barriers.
Plato continued via an unscheduled pit stop, however, taking the flag a lap down in 24th.
The second race of the weekend in Norfolk is scheduled to get underway at 13:50 BST.
|1||31||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||12||28:07.346||2:18.922||1|
|2||1||M||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||12||0.152||2:18.290||9|
|3||27||M||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||12||9.659||2:19.361||2|
|4||66||M||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||12||13.619||2:20.016||6|
|5||600||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||Ford Focus RS||12||15.023||2:18.897||8|
|6||11||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||12||27.772||2:20.030||7|
|7||22||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||12||28.082||2:19.881||21|
|8||15||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||12||30.690||2:20.140||10|
|9||26||Daniel LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||12||31.116||2:19.579||23|
|10||33||Adam MORGAN||MAC Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||12||37.164||2:19.808||13|
|11||39||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||12||37.214||2:20.480||4|
|12||77||M||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||12||41.088||2:20.935||11|
|13||3||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||12||41.856||2:20.087||16|
|14||25||M||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||12||43.115||2:21.226||12|
|15||2||M||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||12||43.265||2:20.888||15|
|16||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||12||44.947||2:20.638||26|
|17||20||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||12||46.141||2:20.199||24|
|18||19||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||12||50.407||2:21.071||20|
|19||44||Michael CAINE||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||12||53.040||2:20.553||27|
|20||60||Stephen JELLEY||Team Parker Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||12||1:04.086||2:22.237||28|
|21||24||Dan WELCH||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||12||1:08.664||2:22.434||31|
|22||23||Sam SMELT||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||12||1:12.613||2:22.105||29|
|23||10||Ant WHORTON-EALES||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||12||1:47.039||2:19.403||30|
|24||99||M||Jason PLATO||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||11||1 Lap||2:20.965||25|
|25||18||M||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||9||+ 3 LAPS||2:20.190||19|
|R||303||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||Honda Civic Type R||4||DNF||2:22.854||3|
|R||80||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||2||DNF||2:24.767||5|
|R||6||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||2||DNF||2:31.151||18|
|R||21||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||2||DNF||N/A||14|
|R||5||M||Rob COLLARD||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||0||DNF||N/A||17|
|R||48||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||0||DNF||N/A||22|