Jason Plato has taken the lead of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship standings with victory in the opening race of the weekend at Snetterton.

Plato picked up his third win of the year and was able to move ahead of Honda driver Matt Neal in the race for the title when he was forced to retire from the race in the closing stages.

Plato's Chevrolet team-mate Alex MacDowall had started from pole but saw his hopes of victory disappear on the opening lap with a broken gearlever forcing him to slow off the line. He would eventually rejoin the race to calibrate a new part fitted but wasn't classified in the results.

That allowed Plato to lead from Mat Jackson through the opening lap and the pair would break away from the chasing pack as they battled for victory, with Plato eventually pulling away from the BMW behind to secure victory.

Gordon Shedden ran third on the opening lap but lost out to the speed of the Team Aon Ford Focus on lap seven as Tom Chilton blasted past on the Revett Straight to claim the final podium position, although he was unable to close on the two drivers at the head of the field.

Shedden therefore had to settle for fourth place with James Nash an impressive fifth for Triple Eight, who got ahead of Neal and Andrew Jordan in one move on lap six when the pair were slowed coming out of the Esses.

Tom Onslow-Cole came through from the back of the field to take sixth ahead of Steven Kane and Tom Boardman, with Jordan eventually taking the flag in ninth place having been shuffled back down the pack when Kane and Boardman both got ahead on lap 15.

Rob Collard completed the scorers after stealing tenth from Paul O'Neill on the final lap.

Neal had led the standings going into the race but his hopes of retaining the lead were ended when he pitted with a puncture just two laps from the end while running seventh. While the cause of the puncture isn't yet known, Neal had clipped the foam barrier at Russell a matter of laps before his front left tyre went down approaching the Esses.

As an aside, Martin Depper won a three-car battle to avoid being the final driver to take the chequered flag after beating Shaun Hollamby's VW and Forster Motorsport team-mate Arthur Forster to the line.


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