Round 20: Italian flair sees Giovanardi conquer
29 July 2007
Fabrizio Giovanardi has taken further points out of rival Jason Platowith victory in the 20th round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton.
Giovanardi took victory ahead of Matt Neal and Plato in a race hit by two Safety Car periods and multiple retirements – with just 14 of the 23 drivers still running at the finish.
When the race kicked off, front-row pairing Tom Onslow-Cole and Gordon Shedden got away well with Shedden maintaining his lead into the first corner, but by the time the front-runners turned into Riches, there had been problems behind.
A fast starting Chris Stockton got touched from behind which tipped his Lexus into a spin and the result was that he ended up in front of Fiona Leggate's MG – which was launched over the bonnet of the BTC Racing car and landed on top of the guardrail before eventually coming to rest back on the circuit. However, with both cars in a dangerous position, there was little option but to call out the Safety Car.
However, even that couldn't be done in routine style as the field came round to line up behind the red Porsche at the start of lap two. While the leaders took up formation behind the Safety Car, Richard Marsh slammed into the back of Matt Allison's SEAT and then spun into the side of the stricken Lexus – although luckily there was no-one stood with the car at the time. Although Marsh rejoined, it was simply to limp back to the pits to retire.
With a number of position changes having occurred on the opening lap, it was Shedden who led the race from Jackson, Giovanardi and Onslow-Cole – with the Team RAC man having been 'hung out to dry' on the opening lap as Jackson came through onto the Revett Straight. Tom Chilton was fourth ahead of Darren Turner and Plato while further down the order Neal was already up to eleventh having started from 18th. Turkington meanwhile, from the very back of the field, was running next to last having been delayed by the Stockton/Leggate shunt at the start.
Racing resumed on lap six and Neal was quickly into the top ten when Erkut spun at Riches. Up front, Jackson was forced wide at Sear trying to pass Shedden which allowed Giovanardi to get a run on the BMWinto second along the Revett Straight, with the Italian trying unsuccessfully to then take the lead from Shedden at The Esses. Turner and Plato were both on the move, the two SEATs having passed Onslow-Cole just after the restart.
On lap seven however, Giovanardi was in front as he used the power of the Vectra to blast past Shedden into the lead of the race on the run along the Revett Straight. Shedden then lost out to both Jackson and Chilton coming through The Esses and Bomb Hole section but Shedden quickly re-took third from Chilton with a fine move down the inside into Russell. Behind meanwhile, Plato had got ahead of team-mate Turner into fifth place while Neal was now eighth.
On lap eight, Neal was up to seventh after passing Onslow-Cole while the sister car of Shedden was back into second as the Scot repeated his pass on Chilton to get back ahead of Jackson's BMW.
Ahead of the Honda, Giovanardi was pulling away in the lead but the Italian was going to see main rival Plato soon hit trouble.
On lap nine, Chilton went inside Jackson for third at Sear with Plato trying to go inside both drivers at once. The three then ran side-by-side along the Revett Straight but it would end in tears as three into one wouldn't go when the trio got to the Esses. Chilton tried to take his normal line into the left hander but was tagged by Plato – the Vauxhall spinning onto the grass and Plato missing the corner altogether and dropping down to seven place.
Having moved up to fifth due to the problems ahead for others, Neal quickly took fourth on lap ten when he took Jackson at Coram while further down the order, Eoin Murray was making up places – battling past Tom Ferrier and Jason Hughes to go up to eighth.
On lap twelve, Turkington made it into the points as he battled ahead of Hughes into the top ten, while a lap later, Plato continued his fightback as he went into fifth at the Bomb Hole past Mat Jackson.
However, a lap later the Safety Car was back on track after an incident involving Martyn Bell and Erkut saw the Arkas Racing man disappear into the fields between Riches and Sear. Although the Astra Sport Hatch appeared to be out of the way, the field was neutralised for a number of laps before racing resumed with just three laps remaining.
Those three laps wouldn't be long enough for anyone to challenge Giovanardi for victory, but behind him there was a change as both Neal and Plato got ahead of Turner on the final lap.
The only other change in the top ten saw Matt Allison take tenth from Hughes at Russell in the closing stages despite the damage sustained in his collision with Marsh early in the race.
Behind Giovanardi, Neal and Plato, Turner settled for fourth ahead of Jackson and Onslow-Cole – with the two BMWs now on the front row for the final race thanks to the reverse grid draw. Murray, Chilton, Turkington and Allison completed the scorers while Hughes, Bell, John George and Simon Blanckley were the only other people to make it to the finish.