Fabrizio Giovanardi completed his second victory of the day at a damp Brands Hatch, the Italian cruising to a lights-to-flag victory as carnage yet again broke out behind him in the 23rd round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The VX Racing driver crossed the line ahead of key championship rival Jason Plato, who embarked on a thrilling back-to-front drive after an early spin, and Gordon Shedden. Just twelve cars would be classified, only eight of those finishing on the same lap.
With three cars having already been withdrawn from the meeting – Matt Neal, Tom Ferrier and David Pinkney – courtesy of the huge crash on the opening lap in first race and another three unable to start – Rick Kerry, Fiona Leggate and Eoin Murray -, a heavily depleted field lined up for the second race, run in damp but drying conditions.
Not that it prevented the drivers from taking it easy at the start in the patchy conditions when Tom Onslow-Cole got a typically demon start in his Team RAC 320si, the Snetterton winner managing to slot his car between his team-mate Colin Turkington and Darren Turner's SEAT – a space that wasn't quite BMW-shaped.
Somewhat inevitably, Onslow-Cole's nose tipped Turkington and Turner into one another, the trio come to rest at the exit of the pit-lane, with Onslow-Cole and Turner out on the spot, while Turkington recovered to the pits to fall an eventual lap down. Martyn Bell would also become a victim of the melee, being tagged by the SEAT of Matt Allison, the Motorbase driver taking avoiding action and managing to clip the BMW.
The lap one action wasn't over though when Tom Chilton attempted to go around the outside of Plato at Surtees, the ensuing contact causing both to spin off, Plato recovering at the back of the field but Chilton getting caught on the sodden grass and sliding helplessly into the barriers. Heavily damaging the front of his Vectra, Chilton was forced to retire.
With four leading drivers out and another two of them heavily delayed, a surprise order emerged out of the spray, pole sitter Giovanardi coming up to the safety car in the lead but ahead of Chris Stockton, Gavin Smith, Adam Jones, Erkut Kizilirmak, Allison, Richard Marsh, Gordon Shedden and Mat Jackson in his hastily repaired MSport BMW.
Smith's third place would be misleading though, the returning Irishman having jumped the start, a drive-through penalty duly coming his way. Worse was to come though when he got the hammer down too early at the restart and was already past Stockton before they crossed the start-finish line as the race resumed. The GR Asia driver would be forced to serve a second penalty.
It took just one more corner for the race to be pitched under safety car conditions again though when Allison got out of shape coming out of Paddock Hill Bend, the SEAT slamming hard into the barrier on the inside of the circuit, the impact heavily damaging the rear of his Toledo and potentially forcing the second Motorbase car out of the final race.