Matt Neal secured his 50th Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship win in dramatic fashion in the opening race of the weekend at Thruxton.
Neal had been running in second spot behind pole-sitter Andrew Jordan who seemed set to take his second win of the year having led almost all the way from the start.
However, the Pirtek Racing man was robbed of victory on the final lap when a front-left puncture saw him run off track. Although Jordan was able to get his car to the finish, he slipped back to eleventh spot before parking his car on the inside of the circuit and trudging back to the pits.
Neal's winning margin would therefore be more than six seconds ahead of Jason Plato's MG, with the points leader having seen off the challenge of Tom Onslow-Cole's VW Passat despite the maximum ballast on his car.
Plato had earlier clashed with Gordon Shedden on the opening lap as the pair battled for the same piece of tarmac at the Complex with Shedden – who had briefly got ahead of Jordan off the line – sliding off in the barriers. The defending champion would rejoin at the back of the field and was later forced to pit, meaning he ended up down in 25th spot.
Third for Onslow-Cole have Team HARD. a first podium finish of the year with Sam Tordoff, Jeff Smith and Colin Turkington completing the top six.
Back in the pack, the battle for Jack Sears Trophy honours saw Joe Girling lead early on before lost top spot to Lea Wood and ran off at the Complex.
Wood was soon passed for top spot by the VW Golf of James Kaye but when Kaye was then forced to pull off and retire, it was Liam Griffin who came through to take class honours ahead of Wood and David Nye.