Jason Plato took victory in the opening HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Silverstone but the SEAT Sport UK man didn't have it all his own way after a storming drive from the BMW of Mat Jackson.
Plato held on to win by just half a second from Jackson, who had started down in 14th place, while Darren Turner was able to secure the final step of the podium to give SEAT a 1-3 finish.
With rain starting to fall, most of the field elected to start the race on wet tyres and Plato made the perfect start to lead the field into Copse for the first time. Behind however, Steven Kane had made a storming start in the Motorbase BMW from sixth on the grid and blasted his way through into second ahead of Turner. However, the SEAT man fought back into the place by the end of the lap with Matt Neal in fourth, Colin Turkington in fifth and Jackson already up to sixth after a storming opening tour of the National Circuit. Further back, Rob Collard suffered a spin and was tagged by Chris Stockton as he went round in front of the field.
Kane's fine start wouldn't account for much however as on the second lap, he went off exiting Brooklands and saw his BMW become beached in the gravel trap on the outside of the circuit. It meant the Safety Car was deployed to allow the car to be removed and brought the field under caution – although before the field lined up behind the Porsche at the end of lap three, Jackson had battled ahead of Turkington into fourth place.
With the race under caution, Tom Onslow-Cole and Adam Jones both pitted for tyres having elected to start the race with slicks on the front and wets on the rears, dropping both down the order.
Plato led from Turner and Neal, with Jackson, Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi rounding out the top six ahead of the restart. Andy Jordan, Gordon Shedden, Mike Jordan and Harry Vaulkhard were also running in the points as the race got back underway on lap nine.
Shedden soon got ahead of Jordan Jr into seventh place but ahead of them a real battle was developing for third as Neal came under pressure from Jackson. The BMW got ahead coming over the start/finish line into the position but Neal then fought back through Maggotts and Becketts. Onto the National Straight, Jackson attacked again only for Neal to defend but then into the Complex, Jackson managed to make a move stick and took third. Behind Neal, Giovanardi had climbed into fifth after getting ahead of Turkington.
Within a lap, Giovanardi was fourth after he got ahead of Vauxhall team-mate Neal but the champion couldn't keep pace with Jackson who was now putting in quick laps to close the gap to Turner in second. Further down the top ten, Mike Jordan had got ahead of son Andy and was looking to try and battle past Shedden while Stephen Jelley had climbed into the top ten in the second RAC BMW.
By lap 17, Jackson was right on Turner's tail and on lap 19, he dived down the inside into Copse to take the place. Down the top ten, there was disappointment for Mike Jordan who returned to the pits with a wheel askew, possibly following contact with Shedden who had dropped down the order outside the top ten.
Jackson started to close in on Plato for the lead and was aided slightly by back-marker Erkut getting in the way through the Complex but Plato was able to keep his lead to the finish despite Jackson bringing the gap down to under a second by the flag. Turner slipped back from the top two but was able to keep third by just a tenth of a second from Turkington on the line. Turkington had battled past Giovanardi late on and the defending champion had to settle for fifth, with Neal sixth and Jelley seventh. A fine recovery drive for Jones saw him take eight, with Andy Jordan and Vaulkhard completing the points scorers.
Onslow-Cole's tyre gamble saw him finish eleventh ahead of Tom Chilton and Shedden in a tough race for Team Halfords, while Jason Hughes and Micky Doyle rounded out the top 15. Rob Collard held off Martyn Bell for 16th, while Erkut and John George completed the finishers – albeit two laps down.
For full results, CLICK HERE