Colin Turkington led from lights-to-flag to claim victory in the opening race of the day at Snetterton.
With championship rival Ashley Sutton finishing down in fifth place and Turkington also getting an extra two points for leading a lap and securing the fastest lap, it now means that they are level on points with Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish just a further eight behind.
Turkington got off to a great start from pole position as Tom Ingram breezed past the slow-starting MB Motorsport Honda Civic of Jake Hill and into second.
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant looked up the inside of Sutton going into Riches for the first time but contact with the rear right corner of the Infiniti Q50 sent the BMW 330i M-Sport into a spin. Aiden Moffat ran wide to avoid the spinning Oliphant as Motorbase Performance’s Ollie Jackson found himself on the slippery grass, skidding into the barrier.
All four managed to continue with Oliphant and Jackson being demoted to the back of the field.
Meanwhile, at the head of the pack, Ingram was diving one way and another in an effort to get past Turkington. The former independents champion looked around the outside as the pair went into Agostini, but Turkington using his experience, just ran wide on the exit to prevent the Toyota Corolla from sneaking through.
This allowed Jake Hill to close in and swoop to the inside of Ingram going into Hamilton snatching second before running wide on the exit, allowing Ingram back through.
With Turkington escaping up the road and setting the fastest lap of the race on a track that was getting quicker and quicker, the battle for second was becoming more and more lively.
On the seventh tour of the Norfolk-circuit, Hill got a great run through the first turn of Riches and dived up the inside of Ingram as they headed for the Montreal hairpin. Ingram attempted to close the door on Hill who subsequently, also wasn’t giving up.
Locking up on a still very greasy circuit off-line, contact was made with Ingram’s Toyota being pitched into a half-spin as Hill moved into second. Flashing his lights, Ingram was un-happy. Perhaps realising this and not wanting it to go to the steward’s office, Hill let him back past.
After battling the whole race, Rory Butcher eventually got the better of Sutton and Cammish moving into fourth. A position that could prove pivotal in keeping his championship hopes alive a little longer.
Turkington came home to claim an important win in his championship challenge, and admitted he was ‘a great start’ to his day as he maximised the points he got.
“Obviously it was a great start to my day, it’s always nice to get pole and convert it into a win,” smiled Turkington. “I think we were all fretting at Team BMW before the race, because we had wet tyres on the 3-series as we sat in the garage because the track was taking a long time to dry. Just in the end it flicked over so we started the race on slicks.
“That first lap was a bit tricky, because as the leader, you’re the one doing all the experimenting. But I knew that if I could keep Tom [Ingram] and Jake [Hill] behind me for the first laps, that I would have a good chance of converting the race. It was an excellent start.
“I knew Jake would be pretty quick on the opening few laps and I could see that those guys were battling. It just allowed me to get the car up to speed, assess where the grip was and get my head down. I was going for every point which you’ve got to do in this championship; I wanted to lead the lap, get the fastest lap and maximise my return after a difficult Croft. It feels really nice to bounce back.”
As a race winner, Turkington will now have maximum ballast on-board for the second race.
“The added weight is going to slow me down,” he admitted. “Putting that extra 12kg in the car, but I think I can get off the line as well as I did in race one. I was on the drier side of the track which got me a breather into turn one. We’ll keep making the car faster.”
Ingram and Hill admitted there was no hard feelings between them as they finished second and third respectively.
Fourth was Butcher with Sutton fifth and Cammish sixth.
Seventh was Adam Morgan with Josh Cook eighth and Senna Proctor ninth.
Securing victory in the Jack Sears trophy with 10th was Michael Crees as Chris Smiley finished 11th with Stephen Jelley behind him in 12th.
Matt Neal finished in 13th with Oliphant recovering to 14th after his earlier spin as Carl Boardley completed the points-paying positions.
Header image courtesy of BTCC/Jakob Ebrey
By Jordan Hollands.