Fabrizio Giovanardi claimed his second victory in as many meetings as the final race at Brands Hatch finally provided the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship fans with some drama.
After two subdued races, the third of the day saw Matt Neal
fail to secure the points he needed to wrap up the title, with only his second retirement of the season meaning the championship race will go down to the wire at Silverstone. Neal now leads Jason Plato
by 35 points, and Colin Turkington
by 49, with just 52 points to play for.
Starting from the front row of the grid, Tom Chilton
took the lead when the lights went green, with Gordon Shedden
jumping up to second, but the Safety Car was soon on track when Chris Stockton
and Dave Pinkney collided at Paddock Hill Bend.
When the race got underway proper, Chilton held the lead from Shedden, Giovanardi and Neal – who had title rivals Jason Plato
and Colin Turkington
right behind him. Giovanardi went second past Shedden on the run to Druids on lap 13 but any chance VX Racing had of a one-two finish would disappear in the closing stages. With the front runners all holding position in a train, Chilton ran wide at Clearways on lap 24, allowing Giovanardi into the lead. Shedden the dived down the inside of the local ace through Paddock Hill Bend with Neal attempting to follow him through – but contact with the Astra saw Neal pitched into the air and off into the gravel – the champion suffering only his second retirement of the season.
That incident gave Giovanardi some slight breathing space and he came home for his second win in as many meetings, with Shedden second and Plato third – the SEAT driver having survived the melee ahead. Turkington took fourth from Gareth Howell
and Rob Collard, with Mike Jordan, Chilton, Jason Hughes
and Gavin Smith completing the points scorers.