Gordon Shedden secured victory in a chaotic opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park.
The Honda driver battled hard for the lead with the Team Aon Fords and after a race including two Safety Car periods – the second of which was for incident that out points leader Jason Plato out of the race – Shedden secured a crucial win for his own championship hopes.
Tom Onslow-Cole had led at the start after polesitter Tom Chilton was slow away, with Chilton forcing Shedden to take to the grass on the run to Redgate. Chilton then battled back into second at Redgate on lap three before the Ford and Honda clashed on the Dunlop straight later in the lap.
Shedden reclaimed second on lap five but the Safety Car was then deployed when Paul O'Neill was tipped into a spin exiting Coppice by Tom Boardman and hit the BMW of Steven Kane. O'Neill was out on the spot with a lengthy Safety Car period while his car was moved from the side of the circuit.
The race restarted on lap twelve with Shedden moving into the lead at McLeans and Onslow-Cole being shuffled back down the pack. However, on the approach to the new-look Goddards corner, Plato tagged the rear of Matt Neal's Honda and the Honda man ran wide to clip the new foam barriers before coming back across the circuit and hitting Plato – putting the Chevrolet man into the gravel with a broken front-left wheel.
Onslow-Cole was also forced wide into the foam barriers in his Ford while Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan behind also ended up in the gravel. While Collard resumed, Jordan was also out of the race and the Safety Car was back on track.
The race eventually resumed for just more racing laps, albeit with yellow flags at Goddards thanks to the fact that Plato's car remained in the gravel, and Shedden remained out front for the final two laps to win from Chilton and Mat Jackson – who came through the chaos to third from eleventh on the grid.
Alex MacDowall took fourth ahead of Neal and Steven Kane (from the back of the field), with Tom Boardman, Onslow-Cole, the returning James Kaye and Dave Pinkney picking up points.
Plato now leads the standings by 14 points from Neal but there are only 20 points covering the top four drivers.