Fabrizio Giovanardi has secured his first win of the 2007 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season – and VX Racing's first win with the new Vectra – after a lights to flag victory in race one at Rockingham.
Giovanardi inherited 'pole' position when pole-sitter Darren Turner was left stranded on the grid at the start of the warm-up lap and led for the entire race en route to his third BTCC win, with team-mate Tom Chilton following him home to give the team a fine 1-2 finish.
The Italian made a solid get-away to lead the field around the turn one banking for the first time, with championship leader Jason Plato slotting into second and Chilton holding third. A good start from Matt Neal saw him jump into fourth place from Tom Onslow-Cole and Mat Jackson, while back in the pack, Colin Turkington had made a fine start from the back of the field in his Team RAC BMW to jump up the order.
As expected, the circuit would provide plenty of chances to overtake, with many of the moves coming as the cars dropped off the banking and swept into Deene. On lap two, Jackson dived down the inside of Onslow-Cole into the turn and took fifth, with Eoin Murray in the Quest Racing Alfa Romeo following the SEAT Cupra champion through, tagging Onslow-Cole in the process and dropping the rookie down to tenth.
Murray wouldn't keep the position for long however, as on the following lap he fell victim to a fine move down the inside from Gordon Shedden, who was making moves up the order from eighth and took sixth. Murray continued to go the wrong way down the order on lap four, when he was taken by Mike Jordan at the same place.
Out front, Giovanardi was extending his lead over Plato – carrying maximum ballast to his championship position – with Chilton pressurising from behind. Neal was still fourth, but under pressure from Jackson – the two touching on the exit of the Brook Esses on lap seven.
Continuing to make his moves through the field, Turkington was into the top ten by lap nine when he moved past Gareth Howell at turn two and set about chasing team-mate Onslow-Cole. However, the order was soon to be shaken when Fiona Leggate, who had been embroiled in an interesting battle for position with Martyn Bell, suffered an engine failure on lap ten going into the Esses, with the Kartworld MG leaving a trail of oil on the entrance to the corner and then up onto the Rockingham banking.
When the field arrived at the corner on lap eleven, the slippery conditions would catch out a number of runners, with Giovanardi taking a trip across the gravel and Plato and Chilton both slipping wide. With cars going off the track, Shedden was able to slip past team-mate Neal into fourth place. Plato would also lose second as he took turn one at the start of the next lap, the SEAT appearing to get a little out of shape to give Chilton a run down the inside into Deene. From there, the top three would remain unchanged to the flag, while Sheeden would hold off Neal for fourth.
Behind them however, there were changes, with Mike Jordan diving inside Jackson on lap 14 and Onslow-Cole then tipping Jackson into a spin. Onslow-Cole would soon lose the place he gained in the move however, with team-mate Colin Turkington finding a way past on the closing lap to take seventh behind Jordan, with Onslow-Cole settling for eighth. Murray and Jackson rounded out the top ten.
Matt Allison was eleventh ahead of Jason Hughes, with Dave Pinkney, John George and Martyn Bell rounding out the top 15. Erkut Kizilirmak, Chris Stockton and Nick Leason completed the 18 finishers.