Jason Plato took the spoils in round 18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park to extend his lead still further, with main title rival Fabrizio Giovanardi
failing to score.
Plato took the spoils ahead of Matt Neal
and Mike Jordan
to extend his lead over Giovanardi to 25 points, despite being forced to start the final race from ninth place thanks to the reverse grid rules.
With small 'rivers' running down the Craner Curves and across the circuit through Schwantz Curve, conditions going into the race were far from ideal - so much so that yellow flags would be out for the entire race at the Old Hairpin due to a small flood ont he inside of the corner.
When the race kicked off, Colin Turkington
made the best start to lead the field into Redgate having secured pole position when the 'Wheel of Fortune' did its job after the second race. Behind the Team RAC man, Mike Jordan
slotted into second ahead of Darren Turner, with Matt Allison
slipping down to fourth having started on the front row. Plato, from ninth on the grid was seventh at the end of lap one, while title rival Fabrizio Giovanardi
was two places further back.
Turkington wouldn't stay out front for long as the Northern Irishman, struggling to get heat into the front tyres of the BMW, lost position to Jordan at Hollywood, with Turner also moving past the bright orange car before the end of the lap. Behind them, Allison was in the wars when he ran wide at the Old Hairpin on lap three, dropping out of the top ten and putting Matt Neal
into fourth and Plato into fifth.
That led to one of the most dramatic moves of the weekend on lap four, as Turkington, Neal and Plato diced for position coming along the Dunlop Straight. Turkington went to the inside coming under the Dunlop Bridge while Neal was on the right - with Plato deciding to put his Leon right down the middle.
The SEAT sailed through into a podium position, while Neal was also able to get ahead of the BMW into fourth as Turkington slipped to fifth. Meanwhile, the second Team Halfords Honda of race one winner Gordon Shedden
was making moves back up the order and, having slipped to eleventh on the opening lap, the Scot took seventh from Mat Jackson
at the Chicane on lap five.
Out front, Jordan continued to lead but it was only a matter of time before the Eurotech Integra came under pressure from the SEAT duo behind. When Plato moved ahead of Turner on lap seven it was a case of 'when more than if' he would take the lead.
Indeed it took little more than a lap for the lead to switch as Jordan was slow out of the Old Hairpin and Plato nipped through, while Neal moved into a podium place past Turner at McLeans on the same lap and set about chasing down the pair ahead.
On lap eleven, Jordan briefly took the lead back after a move at Hollywood only for Plato to take the place back at McLeans. By the end of the lap, Jordan would also have lost second to Neal - with the trio remaining in position until the finish.
Off the podium, Mat Jackson
took fourth ahead of Shedden and Turkington, while Tom Chilton, Tom Onslow-Cole, Turner and Matt Allison
completed the scorers. On a wrecthed weekend for Vauxhall, Giovanardi could only finish eleventh after an off track excursion caused by standing water on the circuit, which left the Italian with a no score from the race compared to 16 points for Plato, who now leads the pack heading to the next meeting at Snetterton.