Gordon Shedden gave the new Honda Civic Type-R its first BTCC victory in the second race at Brands Hatch, beating Andy Priaulx by just four hundredths of a second as Jason Plato retired from a dominant lead with a late puncture.
After just a handful of laps, there looked like there would be no stopping the Team BMR Volkswagen CC of Plato, which started from pole after securing fastest lap in the opening race of the day before quickly establishing a healthy lead.
Indeed, the two time champion had built up a seemingly unassailable lead of over three seconds before running wide at Paddock Hill Bend and into the gravel with only three laps remaining after suffering a left-front puncture.
"You can't plan for that, cruel luck," said Plato. "I've obviously caught a kerb wrong or picked up some damage - we've got to understand why we had a tyre failure. Big shame, as it would have been fantastic for the team."
Plato's demise turned Shedden and Priaulx's frantic scrap for second into the lead battle; the latter had already got his BMW 125i ahead of Shedden's factory Honda with a better run out of Clearways in the closing stages, only for the Scotsman to immediately re-take the advantage through Paddock Hill and into Druids.
Shedden then found himself baulked by the lapped Infiniti of Derek Palmer, allowing Priaulx to close in, the Guernseyman going on the attack at Clearways only to fall short by just 0.040s on the drag to the finish line.
"It was a bit unexpected, the car was brand new - to win in our second race is incredible," said Shedden in the aftermath of his victory. "Priaulx is a class act, and that photo finish is what touring car racing is all about."
Behind the pair, Turkington upheld Team BMR honour by completing the podium in third place, dropping away from Shedden and Priaulx in the final laps, while the Mercedes of Adam Morgan held off Andrew Jordan's factory MG to take fourth.
The Speedworks Toyota of Tom Ingram was next up in sixth, ahead of Sam Tordoff (WSR BMW), the second works Civic Type-R of Matt Neal, Jack Goff (Triple Eight MG) and Rob Austin's self-run Audi, who will begin the final race of the day in pole position after his name was chosen in the reverse grid draw.
Race one winner Rob Collard endured a torrid second race using the soft tyres and laden with maximum success ballast. After making a good start to vault from fourth to second, the WSR driver steadily began to drop down the order almost from the outset, ending the race in a lowly 16th place.
|20||Derek Palmer Jr||Infiniti||1 Lap|
|21||Stewart Lines||Toyota||1 Lap|
|22||Kieran Gallagher||Toyota||1 Lap|
|23||Jeff Smith||Honda||1 Lap|