Colin Turkington beat Ash Sutton to take his 12th career win at Croft in the second race of the BTCC meeting at the North Yorkshire venue.
The WSR BMW driver got a great getaway from second on the grid to beat Subaru driver Sutton, who had taken victory in the day’s opener, to the first right-hander at Clervaux.
Sutton came back at Turkington coming around the next Hawthorn corner, but as the pair tried to go side-by-side through the chicane, Turkington skipped through the run-off area to seal the position.
Sutton kept the pressure on Turkington throughout, but the 75kg of success ballast on his car meant he dropped back in the latter stages and came under attack from Turkington’s WSR teammate Rob Collard.
A slip by Collard with two laps to go, when he ran wide at the Jim Clark Esses, settled the top three positions.
Turkington, who was carrying 66kg of success ballast, said: “Wins are never easy to come by in this championship and I had to work hard for that one. The race was won at the start really.
“I could see Rob Collard coming up behind Ash and I and I hoped he had the pace to trouble Sutton. It was only in the latter part of the race I was able to get away.”
Sutton was mystified by a loss of pace over the latter part of the race, particularly the last two laps where he dropped well back.
“It was like someone had flicked a switch in my car at the end of the race,” said Sutton. “We need to look at the set up. But I still can’t understand how I went into the chicane ahead and then came out of it behind Colin [after he’d gone up the escape road].”
Turkington’s victory was the 50th by the WSR team when running BMW cars.
Behind the top three, Gordon Shedden had a lonely run to fourth from fifth on the grid, fitted with the less favourable harder tyres and 48kg of success ballast. It was enough for him to retain his championship lead.
Andrew Jordan (WSR BMW) and Jason Plato (Team BMR Subaru) fought a mighty duel over fifth place, with Jordan just able to maintain the advantage to the flag.
Mat Jackson, who was on the harder tyres, slipped from third on the grid to finish in seventh place carrying 57kg of ballast on his Motorbase Ford.
He headed home the battling Rob Austin (Handy Motorsport Toyota) and Ollie Jackson (AmD Tuning Audi), while Martin Depper (Motorbase Ford) rounded out the top 10.
Matt Neal (Team Dynamics Honda) started from the back in race two after contact and a puncture ruled him out of the opener. Despite a collision with a tyre stack midway through, he finished in 18th spot.