Colin Turkington took his second win of the year in one of the most thrilling races of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Mondello Park.
In mixed conditions with the track starting wet and some light rain in the air, tyre choice should have been king, but it wasn't quite as clear as that as a variety of tyre options filled the top ten come the chequered flag.
The front row of Jason Plato
and Yvan Muller made the decision to change to full slicks for the race, but their tyre swaps on the grid were not completed before the three minute board was out, meaning a 30second stop-go penalty for the duo as well as James Kaye further down the field.
Turkington benefitted from this at the start, but initially the conditions favoured Tom Chilton's Civic on full wets which could seemingly take whatever line he wished as he passed for the race lead before the first lap was completed.
On mixed tyres Rob Collard
was right in the thick of it too, taking his MG up to second in the field. Turkington kept his Astra in touch however and battled his way back past Collard whose rear view mirror was soon full of Dan Eaves' Honda.
Collard couldn't repel the orange machine and Eaves was past, and as the track dried so Chilton's advantage evaporated and Turkington et al were past, and Chilton come into the pits for a change of boots.
Turkington's advantage at the top of the field by now was quite sizeable, but Eaves knew the task at hand as he tried to close him down. Behind them, and on slick tyres, Matt Neal
was in fourth and looking threatening as the track continued to dry, but he hadn't factored in a fiesty Gavin Smith who challenged for, and won Neal's position after some side-by-side running.
Neal's race then started to look like one of defence as Luke Hines pressured the Team Halfords man, but Neal kept his toe in and first opened up a gap from Hines before closing in on, and then passing Rob Collard's MG. Both Integras once more were working forwards and closing in for the lead, but there was sufficient precipitation to allow Turkington to retain his lead to the chequered flag for the second win of the season for the young star.
The action was not just at the front however, as further down the field the punished pair of Jason Plato
and Yvan Muller were working their magic with first Muller and then Plato setting fastest lap times. Muller's penalty had been served first, and Plato had a lap stuck behind James Kaye, but the SEAT was right on the tail of the Vauxhall as they made their moves on the backmarkers.
Finally the duo were with Pickford and all three moved past the HPI Racing Friends Reunited Lexus duo of Richie Williams and Ian Curley. Muller then found way past Pickford, and Plato too after some dicing, but Jason opted for a tenth place finish and let his team-mate back past as the race ended.
Honourable mentions once more to Jason Hughes
in his V6 MG, who raced on wets and finished a fine seventh after losing, then retaking position from Tom Chilton.Top ten
1. Colin Turkington
2. Dan Eaves
3. Matt Neal
4. Rob Collard
5. Luke Hines
6. Yvan Muller
7. Jason Hughes
8. Tom Chilton
9. James Pickford
10. Jason Plato