NB: Adam was handed a four second penalty following the race for contact with Plato, handing the victory to the Chevrolet driver and leading Adam in second place
Jonathan Adam capped a dream weekend for the Airwaves BMW team at Brands Hatch as he secured his maiden win in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship in race three.
Following on from victory for team-mate Rob Collard in race two, the double SEAT Cupra Cup title winner produced an impressive display to secure his first win in the series while Jason Plato was equally as impressive as he held off the challenge of Matt Neal to secure a fine second place for RML.
Plato had started the race from pole position after the reverse grid draw saw the top ten reversed for the final race, and made a solid start to lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend ahead of Adam and Dan Eaves and Gordon Shedden, with Adam Jones and Colin Turkington rounding out the top six.
However, while the opening lap was a somewhat subdued affair by BTCC standards, it all kicked off at the start of lap two as the leaders headed into Paddock Hill for the second time. Plato appeared to brake slightly early just as Adam looked to see if he could make a move on the outside, which resulted in the Motorbase-run BMW making heavy contact with the rear of the RML-run Chevrolet. It put Plato into a lurid slide sideways which he was lucky to save, but Adam was through into the lead with Plato – having lost his rear bumper – then under pressure from Shedden, who had managed to get past Eaves into third.
Further down the pack, race two winner Rob Collard came under attack from Stephen Jelley exiting Druids and contact between the pair as they went down to Graham Hill Bend saw Collard tipped into a spin and forced Jelley out with damage to the front right of his car. Also caught up in the accident was defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi who tried to go around the pair coming out of the corner but was clipped by Jelley's car, damaging his Vectra and dropping him to the rear of the field where he would circulate before being forced into the pits to retire.
After a brief Safety Car period to retrieve Plato's rear bumper from the middle of Paddock Hill, the race resumed and Adam quickly started to pull away from the pack behind with Plato ahead of Shedden, Eaves, Turkington and Jones. Jones soon lost sixth place to race one winner Matt Neal who was the man on the move as he also took fifth from Turkington with a move up the inside at Clearways a matter of laps later.
On lap ten, he forced his way past former team-mate Eaves at Clearways, with Turkington and then Andy Jordan both following him through – Jordan having earlier followed Neal past Jones' SEAT.
Plato was clearly finding the Lacetti to be something of a handful as he looked to keep Shedden behind, but his cause was aided as the Scot came under pressure from a charging Neal who eventually found a way though on lap 19 through Clearways. Once again, Turkington wasn't far behind and also passed the Team Dynamics Honda on the following lap.
As Adam continued to run alone out front, Neal then set about finding a way past Plato and made his move on lap 23 at Clearways only for Plato to show the straight-line speed of the Chevrolet to blast back past on the run to Paddock Hill. Neal looked again on the following lap and then had one last chance on the final lap as the pair, with Turkington right behind ready to pounce on any errors, came up behind the BMW of Nick Leason on the run up to Clearways. Leason kept out of the way however and Plato was able to come through to take second from Neal and Turkington, with the Airwaves crew already celebrating on the pit wall as Adam took the flag for his first win.
Behind the top four, Shedden took fifth place ahead of Eaves, while Jones and a recovering Collard completed the top eight; Andy Jordan having pulled into the pits with just laps remaining to retire. His retirement also enabled Harry Vaulkhard to take ninth for Tempus Sport, while Martyn Bell took his second top ten finish of the weekend in tenth.
Tom Chilton took eleventh in the first of the Aon Ford Focus STs ahead of team-mate Alan Morrison, while Martin Johnson held off John George for 13th. Leason, a lap down in 15th, completed the drivers to make it to the finish.
However, with Adam's move for the lead of the race being somewhat robust, it remains to be seen whether the stewards could yet decide the ultimate outcome of the third round of the campaign…
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