Colin Turkington has taken his sixth win of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship after a controversial final race of the weekend at Snetterton, which saw BTCC rookie James Nash take the flag first before being excluded for an incident involving Rob Collard.
Collard had made the best start to the race from the second row of the grid to blast past Nash and poleman Harry Vaulkhard on the run to Riches for the first time, with Nash slotting into second and Jonathan Adam into third as Vaulkhard dropped backwards down the order. His race would be over before the end of the opening lap, as he went off into the barriers on the outside of Coram after what appeared to be slight contact with James Thompson.
Collard led from Nash and Adam at the end of the opening lap, with points leader Colin Turkington in fourth and Jason Plato and Paul O'Neill rounding out the top six. Plato soon made a move on Turkington for fourth on lap two and having harried Adam for third, took the place at Sear on lap six. However, he then went straight on at the Esses and slowed dramatically, making it slowly back to the pits but dropping off the lead lap in the process.
Nash was now closing on Collard for the lead, but as the field went into Riches on lap seven it was clear that something had been dropped on the circuit as drivers struggled for grip – with the Ford Focus of Tom Chilton emerging as the culprit having dropped oil before going off at the Esses. Adam was the biggest loser on the oil as he ran wide and was knocked back to fifth by Turkington and O'Neill, with Matt Neal and Stephen Jelley following behind.
After a Safety Car period to remove Chilton's car from the side of the track, the race resumed on lap eleven but Adam suffered a spin coming out of Russell on the restart which allowed the top four to break away. Nash was right with Collard and trying top find a way past into the lead but was baulked at the Esses on lap twelve and came under pressure form Turkington and O'Neill. That bickering allowed Giovanardi to close up as the defending champion looked to add to his two earlier wins.
On the 13th lap, Nash again looked into the Esses with Collard running slightly wide exiting the corner – enough for Nash to put his nose up the inside on the run to the Bombhole. Slight contact between the two was enough to tip Collard into a spin to the inside of the circuit and his car then came back onto the racing line on the apex of the corner where it was collected by Jelley's Team RAC BMW; the former single-seater racer having been unsighted by Neal's Vectra ahead.
With two heavily damaged cars on the circuit the Safety Car was deployed as the field came over the line, but the late nature of the deployment caught out the front-runners who jumped on the brakes – with third-placed O'Neill running into the rear of Turkington before managing to keep his car out of the barriers.
The race eventually resumed with just three laps remaining, and Nash made the perfect restart to pull away from Turkington, while O'Neill was unable to hold off either Giovanardi or Neal with his Honda apparently hobbled somewhat by the contact with Turkington's BMW.
Turkington closed on Nash again as the field started its final lap but the youngster was able to hold on as Turkington was under increasing pressure from Giovanardi – who was throwing his Vectra across the kerbs in a frantic bid to take second and more points from Turkington's championship lead.