29 July 2007
Round 20: Italian flair sees Giovanardi conquer.
Fabrizio Giovanardi has taken further points out of rival Jason Platowith victory in the 20th round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton.
Giovanardi took victory ahead of Matt Neal and Plato in a race hit by two Safety Car periods and multiple retirements – with just 14 of the 23 drivers still running at the finish.
When the race kicked off, front-row pairing Tom Onslow-Cole and Gordon Shedden got away well with Shedden maintaining his lead into the first corner, but by the time the front-runners turned into Riches, there had been problems behind.
A fast starting Chris Stockton got touched from behind which tipped his Lexus into a spin and the result was that he ended up in front of Fiona Leggate's MG – which was launched over the bonnet of the BTC Racing car and landed on top of the guardrail before eventually coming to rest back on the circuit. However, with both cars in a dangerous position, there was little option but to call out the Safety Car.
However, even that couldn't be done in routine style as the field came round to line up behind the red Porsche at the start of lap two. While the leaders took up formation behind the Safety Car, Richard Marsh slammed into the back of Matt Allison's SEAT and then spun into the side of the stricken Lexus – although luckily there was no-one stood with the car at the time. Although Marsh rejoined, it was simply to limp back to the pits to retire.
With a number of position changes having occurred on the opening lap, it was Shedden who led the race from Jackson, Giovanardi and Onslow-Cole – with the Team RAC man having been 'hung out to dry' on the opening lap as Jackson came through onto the Revett Straight. Tom Chilton was fourth ahead of Darren Turner and Plato while further down the order Neal was already up to eleventh having started from 18th. Turkington meanwhile, from the very back of the field, was running next to last having been delayed by the Stockton/Leggate shunt at the start.
Racing resumed on lap six and Neal was quickly into the top ten when Erkut spun at Riches. Up front, Jackson was forced wide at Sear trying to pass Shedden which allowed Giovanardi to get a run on the BMWinto second along the Revett Straight, with the Italian trying unsuccessfully to then take the lead from Shedden at The Esses. Turner and Plato were both on the move, the two SEATs having passed Onslow-Cole just after the restart.
On lap seven however, Giovanardi was in front as he used the power of the Vectra to blast past Shedden into the lead of the race on the run along the Revett Straight. Shedden then lost out to both Jackson and Chilton coming through The Esses and Bomb Hole section but Shedden quickly re-took third from Chilton with a fine move down the inside into Russell. Behind meanwhile, Plato had got ahead of team-mate Turner into fifth place while Neal was now eighth.
On lap eight, Neal was up to seventh after passing Onslow-Cole while the sister car of Shedden was back into second as the Scot repeated his pass on Chilton to get back ahead of Jackson's BMW.
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