Honda and reigning British Touring Car Championship champion Gordon Shedden put themselves back into contention for the 2016 title with victory in the final race at Snetterton.
The weekend, however, will be be remembered for its carnage, climaxing in a horrifying startline accident that caused the final race to be red flagged.
As the field got away, Alex Martin’s Dextra Racing Ford Focus was pitched into the pitlane barrier, and the ensuring confusion saw Hunter Abbott’s Power Maxed Chevrolet Cruze launched into a series of barrel rolls, coming to rest on top of a barrier having demolished a TV camera stand.
The TV cameraman, who remarkably kept on filming though the entire incident, was badly shaken but otherwise uninjured, to the visible relief of the Snetterton crowd who had seen the accident unfold on the circuit’s big screens.
When the race restarted 50 minutes later it was without its pole sitter, devastated championship leader Sam Tordoff pulling his BMW into the pits after suffering a propshaft failure on the warm-up lap. From third grid spot Jason Plato’s Subaru powered through the gap to take the lead from outside front-row starter Tom Ingram, whose Toyota then proceeded to drop down the field.
Plato led from the BMW of Rob Collard, with race two winner Matt Jackson’s Ford Focus in third, and Rob Austin, who had solidly worked his Toyota Avensis up the grid all day long, holding fourth. But with two laps down Plato made a mistake, running wide at Oggies corner and Collard grabbed the lead, the Subaru dropping behind Austin.
Climbing rapidly from seventh on the gird was the Honda of Gordon Shedden, and once Jackson’s Focus had retired the Honda quickly moved past Plato and Austin and into second place, then cutting the gap to the leader.
Onto the final lap BMW and Honda were together, and into Agostinis hairpin Shedden seized his chance. Three corners of body ensured before the Honda grabbed a lead it was not to lose.
Behind a frustrated Collard Austin was delighted with his first podium of the season, holding off Plato who ended the race frustrated at missing another opportunity to win his first race of 2016. Equally frustrated was Andrew Jordan, a fifth-place ahead of Colin Turkington’s Subaru his best result of a trying weekend.
The series now moves north to Knockhill in Scotland in a fortnight with no clear favourite. The BMW pairing of Collard and Tordoff head the points on 188 and 185 respectively, followed by Honda’s Neal and Shedden on 182 and 163, Subaru’s Turkington on 154 and Ford’s Jackson on 153.
The overriding result of this weekend, however, will be the major repairs facing several runners after a race day that was dramatic even by the BTCC’s standards.