West Surrey Racing's Sam Tordoff exceeded even his own expectations by powering his way through from 28th to score what could prove to be a crucial top-ten finish to retain the British Touring Car Championship lead at Rockingham.

Tordoff found himself well and truly in the mire following a turbulent qualifying for the WSR squad after each of its three BMW 125i M Sport machines languished in the wet conditions with an engine misfire.

To rub salt into Tordoff's wounds, Honda's Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal qualified on pole and seventh while his other title rivals all started further up the order.

However, Tordoff turned in the drive of champion and scythed his way through from 28th to 10th, meaning he finished just two places behind his main title rival Neal, to preserve a seven-point lead ahead of the triple champion.

All three WSR BMWs finished in near tandem with Jack Goff and Rob Collard also following up Tordoff's top-ten result with 12th and 14th.

"For Matt [Neal] to be only two places further up the road is actually a pretty good result - we'll take that!" said Tordoff.

"I was hoping to maybe, just maybe scrape into the top 15 but to go tenth was really good. We can now take all the weight off so we're in a really good position now in race two on the medium tyre.

"Rob [Collard] was on the hard tyre so he was doing a different race so he made it easy for me when I caught up. I'll do the same in race three, if required. I'm hoping once we take the weight we'll find even more pace but let's not get carried away too soon yet."

The title protagonist now has the added bonus of losing the vast majority of his performance weight while starting in a much more favourable position for race two.

While paying tribute to the changes made to his BMW machine, Tordoff warns there is still more to come from his 1 Series.

"We struggled yesterday for all the world to see and left ourselves a lot of work to do today. All credit to the guys who have turned the car around. It's still not perfect, believe or not, so we need to make it better still," Tordoff continued.

"Taking all the weight will certainly help so we'll see how we go in race two. The good thing is now we've scored some points and we're back in the race for two and three.

"I'm hoping once we take the weight we'll find even more pace but let's not get carried away too soon yet."