Sam Tordoff stormed to a commanding lights-to-flag victory in race one at Snetterton - his first win in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Tordoff made a clean getaway from pole position and comfortably pulled clear of the battle between Jason Plato's MG and Gordon Shedden's Honda Civic over the 12 laps of racing. Plato took second at the finish, whilst Shedden had to fend off late challenges from Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan to secure the final podium position.
The story belonged to young Tordoff, however, as he backed up his practice and qualifying pace with an assured performance. Somewhat of a Snetterton specialist, having won here previously in both the Clio Cup and Carrera Cup, the 24-year-old made one of his best starts of the season and never looked back. Plato, carrying more success ballast than his team-mate, seemed content to focus on defending from Shedden as Tordoff pulled clear to win by more than two seconds.
"The first one is always special," said a delighted Tordoff. "I knew that if I got away well I’d have a great chance and thankfully I did. A one-two is great for the team and now I have this maiden win – well I have ticked that box – so I feel like I can really go out and enjoy the next two races this afternoon."
A mid-race battle between Plato and Shedden looked to be building towards a dramatic finale before the pace of the Honda Civic dropped off in the latter stages, pushing the reigning champion back into the clutches of the squabbling Turkington and Jordan.
The eBay Motors BMW of Turkington actually helped Jordan’s Civic in the early running as the pair of them came under attack from the charging Airwaves Racing Ford Focus of Aron Smith. As the Irishman looked to go around the outside of both cars at Agostini Hairpin, Turkington baulked the Focus up behind him, which allowed Jordan to recapture fifth position. Smith dropped away soon after and while Turkington and Jordan were rarely separated by more than half a second; the BMW hung on to take fourth. Smith’s sixth position was just reward for the recent development from the Motorbase-run squad, who also cheered Mat Jackson home in eighth place.
Between the Focuses was the Ciceley Racing Toyota Avensis of Adam Morgan, whilst championship leader Matt Neal was made to work hard for his ninth position. Having started 11th on the grid, Neal forced his way by Rob Austin early on and then got past the Vauxhall Insignia of Jack Goff by the midway stage of the contest. Ninth looked likely to become eighth when he made a great move by Jackson at Riches late on, but when the Honda ran wide on the exit of Williams the Focus got a stronger run down the back straight before securing a pass through the Brundle and Nelson complex.
The eBay Motors BMW of Rob Collard secured the final top ten position after a late race pass on Goff.
The Vauxhall Vectra of Lea Wood made light work of the Jack Sears Trophy field as his main rivals failed to finish. His biggest scare came on lap eight when the spinning Vauxhall Insignia of American Robb Holland nearly made contact with the class leader on the exit of Brundle. Wood comfortably went on to win from the Ford Focus of David Nye.