Fabrizio Giovanardi secured victory in the second HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park, although it was a race that led to much head-scratching throughout the paddock following a somewhat bizarre start.
The field lined up on the grid for the start of the race on a damp circuit but the initial start was then aborted when Andy Jordan encountered a problem with his John Guest Racing Honda after taking up his position. However, with the press room – and seemingly half of the grid – expecting another green flag lap before the race kicked off, the red lights came on and the race got underway.
Matt Neal, starting from second on the grid, was one driver to be noticeably slow away from the grid and plummeted down the order as Jason Plato led the field away ahead of Gordon Shedden.
Further down the order, Martyn Bell lost the rear of his Arkas Racing Astra going into Redgate for the first time and spun in front of the SEAT of Stuart Oliver. Alan Taylor was left with nowhere to go and then hit the BTC Racing car – with all three cars forced to retire and the Safety Car coming out onto the track.
Before reaching the start/finish line, Darren Turner had a moment, also at Redgate as he avoided the incident and ran wide across the gravel, while Mike Jordan also went off coming out of the Old Hairpin following contact from the MG of Jason Hughes. Shedden was able to make a move for the lead on Plato coming out of Coppice which meant it was the Team Halfords man who led as the field lined up behind the yellow Porsche ahead of Plato, Fabrizio Giovanardi – who had made the most of the confused start to jump to third – Andy Jordan, Tom Onslow-Cole and Neal.
As the field circulated behind the Safety Car, Harry Vaulkhard and Mike Jordan elected to pit and gamble on wet tyres, while Steven Kane, Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson also elected to come in as the race resumed on lap four.
Straight away, Shedden ran off the track at the Old Hairpin and lost out to both Plato and Giovanardi but within a lap, the defending champion was into the lead of the race after battling past his 2007 nemesis. Further down the order, Turner had made the most of the cars ahead pitting to move into ninth place ahead of Chris Stockton.
Within a lap, Turner was eighth after battling ahead of Adam Jones and then took Andy Jordan on lap eight as he continued his charge up the order. Further up the pack, Neal was pressurising Shedden for third and took the place on lap nine; a lap that also saw the demise of Erkut in the second Arkas Astra after he lost control in the Craner Curves and slammed head-long into the barrier on the inside of the circuit.
His car was out of the way enough to allow the race to continue, and a lap later there was more action coming through the Craner Curves as Onslow-Cole attempted to make a move on Shedden for fourth but when the back end of the Vectra stepped out slightly, a small nudge was enough to send Shedden off across the gravel before his almost collected Onslow-Cole on his way back across the circuit.