Colin Turkington secured his first win with the Team RAC BMW 320si at Croft in the tenth round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The Northern Irish driver qualified on the second row of the grid for the race but made full use of the starting prowess of the rear-wheel drive car to lead the field into Clervaux for the first time and was then able to control the race from the front en-route to the first BTCC win for a BMW since Roberto Ravaglia back in 1996.
In a race somewhat devoid of over-taking at the front, Turkington got ahead of pole man Gordon Shedden when the lights went green, with the other Team Halfords Honda Civic of Matt Neal also making a good start to go second, Shedden settling into third ahead of Darren Turner, Mike Jordan and Tom Onslow-Cole.
The front runners held position before a raft of retirements lower down the order, as Dave Pinkey hit the tyres at the Chicane while trying to pass Erkut – who was recovering from a trip across the gravel at Clervaux, while a lap later, Matt Allison was lucky to escape a huge shunt on the high speed run through the Jim Clark Esses when a car ahead dislodged the tyres on the edge of the circuit – which the Motorbase Performance driver then collected, Allison forced out as a result. Eoin Murray, who had been looking for a repeat of his points scoring debut from last season, also pulled off with a drive-shaft issue.
As Murray pulled into the pits to retire from the race, so Onslow-Cole pulled in ahead of the Alfa Romeo, with the Clio Cup champion pitting with a puncture having dropped down the order. As he returned to the action, he found himself just ahead of the leaders on lap seven, with Turkington getting past his team-mate half way round the lap and Neal then trying to follow him through at the Hairpin. However, contact between the Honda and the BMW allowed Shedden to sneak through into second, with Neal down to third and Onslow-Cole on his way slowly back to the pits to retire from the race.
That contact allowed Turkington to break away from the chasing pack, while Shedden became comfortable in second. Neal remained third but under pressure from Turner although the defending champion was able to keep the SEAT at bay to ensure a double podium for the team. Turner took fourth ahead of Jordan and Fabrizio Giovanardi – the Italian finishing ahead of Jason Plato to slightly close the gap to his title rival. Tom Chilton edged out Mat Jackson for eighth after a race long battle, while the top ten was completed by Gareth Howell.
Chris Stockton was a lonely eleventh for BTC Racing with Simon Blanckley getting the edge on Erkut for twelfth after an interesting battle further down the field, with Martyn Bell 14th – the AllAboutProperty.com man closing on the Astra ahead in the closing stages but running out of laps to try and make up further places. Fiona Leggate, Jim Pocklington, John George and Richard Marsh completed the finishers.