Plato held off from his Clubcard Fuel Save team mate Sam Tordoff who piled on the pressure during the 16 lap race to take his first win at the East Midlands circuit for six years.
Reigning champion Andrew Jordan took third place despite carrying maximum ballast on board his Pirtek Racing Civic, with eBay’s Rob Collard coming home in a strong fourth place having started 13th.
Colin Turkington followed his team mate to finish fifth ahead of the Honda Yuasa Tourer of Gordon Shedden. The pair fell back from the front of the field as the track dried out.
Fabrizio Giovanardi made up places within the race to finish in seventh ahead of Matt Neal and BMR’s Aron Smith – who could only manage ninth following a strong day during yesterday’s practise sessions.
An interesting battle for tenth took place right up until the final lap, with Tom Ingram, Marc Hynes and Dave Newsham all fighting for position. In only his second BTCC weekend, Ingram held on to the place, with Hynes following close behind when the chequered flag fell.
AmD’s Dave Newsham fought back to finish 12th despite two off road incidents in his Ford Focus that put him on the back foot.
Having started on wets, a lot of drivers struggled throughout the race with tyres starting to wear. Rob Austin made the gamble to change to slicks while pitting for repairs. The risk paid off as he achieved the fastest lap of the race, however being two laps down put pay to any chance of a decent result.
The second race gets underway at 14:30 at Donington Park, with news and updates throughout the day on Twitter @nikki_btcc
Race One Classification:
1. Jason Plato
2. Sam Tordoff
3. Andrew Jordan
4. Rob Collard
5. Colin Turkington
6. Gordon Shedden
7. Fabrizio Giovanardi
8. Matt Neal
9. Aron Smith
10. Tom Ingram
11. Marc Hynes
12. Dave Newsham
13. Alain Menu
14. Mat Jackson
15. Lea Wood
Fastest Lap: Rob Austin – Lap 12 – 1:17:601 By Nikki Thompson photos by Marc Waller