Gordon Shedden made the most of his pole position to claim victory in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Donington Park.
The Team Halfords driver didn't have it all his own way during the 15 lap event, dropping down to third at one point before battling back to the front to lead home Colin Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi for his third win of the season.
When the lights went green for the start, Shedden blasted away from the front to lead Turkington and Giovanardi, who had jumped ahead of a slow starting Mike Jordan and his VX Racing team-mate Tom Chilton to sit third. However Turkington wouldn't take long to make a move on the Scot as, getting a run through Coppice, the MG took the inside line for the final chicane to slide through into the race lead.
Shedden would quickly lose another place at the start of lap two when he ran wide through the Old Hairpin, allowing Giovanardi through into second place, but within a lap he had re-passed the Italian and then set about chasing down Turkington. Despite a brief scare at Hollywood, when he and Giovanardi touched on the run into the Craner Curves, Shedden was able to draw back onto the rear of Turkington's MG and on lap eight he swept back into the lead and was never challenged from there to the flag as he claimed victory.
“What a fantastic race,” he said. “To drop to third and then come back to win the race is great and I can't wait for the next one. The guys at Team Halfords have done a great job with the car and to get pole and then the win is a good result.”
Despite the best efforts of Giovanardi, Turkington claimed second place, eeking out a small advantage over the VX Racing driver in the closing laps – although Giovanardi remains confident of trying to secure the 100th BTCC win for Vauxhall in the remaining races later today.
Starting from sixth on the grid, defending champion Matt Neal battled through to fourth place after a fantastic battle with Tom Chilton that had seen the pair run side-by-side through the Craner Curves and Old Hairpin on lap nine before Neal took the place two laps later at the Chicane, with Gavin Smith following his team-mate over the line to put all three Astra Sport Hatches inside the top six.
Jason Plato claimed seventh for SEAT from Jordan, who battled back from the mysterious issue that had slowed him at the start, with Rob Collard and James Kaye completing the top ten. However it wasn't the quiet race Collard had hoped for as he was involved in contact with Darren Turner having run wide at the Old Hairpin and then collected Turner on his way back onto the circuit. It meant Turner was only able to finish twelfth behind Dave Pinkney, while Eoin Murray was unable to build on a blistering turn of speed in the opening laps in the Team Quest Alfa Romeo as he finished 13th.
Martyn Bell claimed 14th after reeling in Jason Hughes in the closing laps to pass the Kartworld MG just a few corners from the flag, with Adam Jones 16th and Mark Smith 17th – the In-Front Motorsport Alfa Romeo lapping much closer to the pace and finishing within touching distance of the field for the first time this season.
Richard Marsh made it the finish in the Team Farecla Peugeot, albeit two laps down after an off track excursion and pit visit, while Fiona Leggate was forced to withdraw from race day after a terminal engine problem on the Thurlby Motors with Tech Speed Vauxhall Astra Coupe.