Reigning BTCC champion Andrew Jordan steered clear of the chaos to take his fourth win of the season at Croft as title leader Colin Turkington retired.
No sooner did the green flag drop, action and chaos came from every direction with no less than three lead changes already occurring even before the pack left the second corner.
The Vauxhall of Jack Goff looked to have secured the lead into Clervaux only for the Insignia to run wide allowing the rookie of Tom Ingram a run on the inside. The two collided with Ingram coming off worse and was swallowed further on the exit of Hawthornes putting him out of the race.
Amazingly Fabrizio Giovanardi then assumed the lead, which lasted all of a couple of corners before he spectacularly clouted the tyres, seemingly with a helping hand from eventual winner Jordan which brought the safety car out as the marshals cleared a sea of BTCC debris.
As the leading pack then settled into somewhat of an orderly formation yet more drama ensued as championship leader Colin Turkington retired with a clutch issue.
Meanwhile, with Goff shielding second Jordan scampered away but the Vauxhalls second place came increasingly under threat from the BMW of Rob Collard. Collard inevitably found a way through past the Insignia while Airwaves' Mat Jackson telegraphed an opening to follow through.
Jackson now holding third was the leader of a very impatient six-car queue which culminated in an awesome final third of the race with each of the contenders all looking very second hand such was the ferocity of the battle.
The unravelling of Goff's defence was key ingredient in the action intensifying and once Gordon Shedden muscled his way through he then no sooner forced on opening to leap ahead of Jackson's Ford Focus.
Jackson, clearly another weak link in the group, defiantly held onto to fourth but Goff lost his fifth position in a near dead heat right on the line to Mercedes' Adam Morgan.
Nick Foster, Alain Menu, Aron Smith and Jason Plato followed behind in very close company to complete the top ten.
Goff, Morgan, Smith and Menu went into turn one almost four abreast on the final lapwhich nearly ended in disaster when Smith tried a heroic move around the outside of two cars into the fast right hander.
Somehow catastrophe was avoided as the Irishman took to the gravel and yielded eighth to his elder Swiss team mate.
Menu and Plato's finishing positions all the more impressive following their relentless crusade up the order from the rear of the field after their race two clash.