Fabrizio Giovanardi secured his fifth win of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in round twelve at Croft to close the gap on points leader Jason Plato to just two points.
Giovanardi, who started on the second row of the grid thanks to the reverse grid rules in place after race two, made light work of front-row starters John George and Jason Hughes and then found a way past Tom Onslow-Cole into a lead he wasn't to lose as the two-way fight for the title swung back the Italian's way.
When the race kicked off, Onslow-Cole blasted into the lead on the run into Clervaux for the first time, with Hughes slotting in behind in the Kartworld MG and Giovanardi taking third. However, Giovanardi quickly got ahead of Hughes going into Tower with Mat Jackson following him through as the field jostled for position but the race would be behind the Safety Car at the end of the opening lap to allow marshals to retrieve the BMW of Martyn Bell from the gravel trap.
When the race went green, Giovanardi took his chance to attack Onslow-Cole and slipped into the lead round Hawthorn – edging away from the Team RAC BMW as Onslow-Cole then came under attack from the similar machine of Jackson. Behind the top three, Hughes was still an impressive fourth in the MG with SEAT duo Plato and Darren Turner fifth and sixth followed by Matt Neal, Tom Chilton and Gordon Shedden – who was already in the top ten despite starting from the back of the field.
A mistake by Neal when he ran wide on lap four saw the champion slip down to ninth place but the champion quickly climbed back up a place two laps later as both he and Shedden got past the Vectra of Chilton. A lap later, Shedden was into sixth as he followed Turner past Plato, and then on lap eight he went fifth as Hughes got hung out to dry round the back of the circuit while Turner went past and dropped out of the top ten altogether. By the end of lap eight, Shedden was up to fourth after dispatching Turner at Sunny In.
From there, he set about chasing down Jackson for third, with the gap between the two getting smaller with every lap. Indeed it appeared that Shedden could well make it onto the podium for the second time in the day but the Scot simply ran out of laps and instead had to settle for fourth – with Giovanardi, Onslow-Cole and Jackson rounding out the podium.
Behind Shedden, Turner took fifth as he completed all three races in the points for the first time this season with Neal sixth, Chilton seventh and Plato rounding out the top eight. Colin Turkington, from the back of the field, took ninth with Mike Jordan completing the scorers.