West Surrey Racing eventually secured victory in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Knockhill as Rob Collard produced a superb drive.
It was quite simply a sensational race with the top eight or so drivers providing top class performances as cars often ran side-by-side during the contest.
Mat Jackson took second having led for much of the race, whilst pole-sitter Andy Priaulx scrapped his way to third.
Priaulx blasted his BMW 125i M Sport off the line and into the lead but he immediately had the Motorbase Performance Ford on his tail, as Jackson nipped by Tordoff on the run down to turn one. Tordoff and Collard’s BMWs touched as they fought for third with the latter getting the better of his younger team-mate.
Second quickly became first for Jackson as the fast-starting Focus cruised by Priaulx at the final hairpin on the opening lap.
Tordoff’s tricky start was far from over, as the Honda of Gordon Shedden squeezed through on the next tour and he was quickly followed by Rob Austin’s Audi.
MG Triple Eight’s Jack Goff and Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat had a coming together on lap seven, which speared Moffat’s Mercedes off track at the chicane. Further contact down the order also saw Dan Welch’s Proton bouncing across the grass and a Safety Car period was called shortly after to repair the dislodged safety stack.
Austin attacked Shedden for fourth on lap 12 as the duo approached backmarker Stewart Lines at high speed. Austin had to jink his Exocet AlcoSense car left to avoid contact with the slowing Toyota, which eventually caused the Audi to swap paint with Shedden’s Civic Type R. Behind them Tordoff was now being relegated down to seventh by the resurgent Matt Neal, but the former would go on to produce a stunning late fightback.
With the BMWs looking after the condition of its Dunlop SportMaxx tyres, all three WSR drivers were absolutely flying in the final third of the race.
Priaulx attacked Jackson for the lead on the exit of the hairpin but a robust defence from the Motorbase Performance driver forced the triple world champion wide, allowing Collard to inherit second. Collard tried the same move on Jackson shortly after but he was able to wedge his 1-Series down the inside of the white #4 machine. Jackson again tried to defend but this time he was helpless in his attempt to prevent the WSR man from taking the lead.
Tordoff meanwhile was back past Neal and he then produced a double move by the battling duo of Shedden and Austin on lap 21. He then began hauling himself towards the lead trio but he would run out of time to make a move for the podium.
Jackson and Priaulx barged their way to the finish but the rostrum order remained the same as they crossed the line together. There was still enough time for one change in the top six as Neal took his Civic past Austin’s Audi, who had himself been bulked up behind Shedden for much of the race.
MG’s Andrew Jordan took a steady eighth ahead of Adam Morgan’s WIX Racing Mercedes, whilst reigning champion Colin Turkington completed the top ten in his Team BMR RCIB Insurance VW.
There were duels going on throughout the order with the race for Jack Sears Trophy honours providing the closest finish. Mike Bushell’s AmD Ford Focus and Josh Cook’s Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze touched on the exit of the final corner on the final lap before running side-by-side to the line. Bushell clung on by an incredibly close 0.008s, gaining him a JST success and one championship point for finishing 15th overall.
Championship leader Jason Plato sacrificed his race from the back of the grid in order to try and qualify well for race two. The ballast-heavy VW could only manage the eighth fastest lap, however, although it will of course fire him up to the fourth row of the grid for the next bout.
His standings advantage has been reduced to ten points from Turkington, whilst Shedden and Tordoff maintain third and fourth in the table.
Jackson will start race two from pole position, with Shedden, Austin and Collard completing the first few rows.
Race 1 result:
1 Robert COLLARD (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX2 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance 3 Andy PRIAULX (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club 4 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX 5 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing 6 Matt NEAL (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing 7 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense 8 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) MG 888 Racing9 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing10 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance 11 Jack GOFF (GBR) MG 888 Racing 12 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing 13 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance14 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing15 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) AmD Tuning.com 16 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed Racing 17 James COLE (GBR) Motorbase Performance 18 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing 19 Robb HOLLAND (USA) Handy Motorsport 20 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing 21 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Welch Motorsport 22 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing 23 Jason PLATO (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance 24 Stewart LINES (GBR) Houseman Racing 25 Aron SMITH (IRL) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
DNF Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport DNF Kieran GALLAGHER (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing DNF Derek P ALMER (GBR) Support Our Paras Racing