BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)Jason Plato has taken his seventy-fifth career victory at the first race of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.
Despite starting on pole position, Andrew Jordan finished behind the MG in second place, regardless of a last lap move that put both of them in the gravel at Clearways before managing to get back on track.

A good drive by Rob Austin in the newly liveried Wix Racing NGTC Audi A4 saw him lead the race early on, but had to settle for third as the new Dunlop soft tyres that he was running in the race started to fall off.

An interesting start to the race saw eBay Motors driver Nick Foster stop out on track making his way to the grid, whilst Tom Onslow-Cole in the Team HARD. run VW Passat CC had a spin. Foster headed back to the pits but with help from the marshals, Onslow-Cole lined-up ready for the start.

Tyres were the hot topic of the morning. Questions abound; how would the new soft tyres perform in the chilly conditions? Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Adam Morgan joined Austin in finding out.

Whilst Rob Austin took the lead from Andrew Jordan, resulting in the Pirtek Honda falling to third behind Jason Plato, the safety car was making its way out on track for the first time this year. James Cole, another Team HARD. racer for 2013 had been caught out on cold tyres coming through Paddock Hill Bend, resulting in the Insignia stuck in the gravel and in need of some marshal assistance.

In a bad start to the season for eBay Motors, with Nick Foster not making it out for the race, team mate Rob Collard also pitted under the safety car with an issue with his BMW. Colin Turkington remained the only eBay car out on track and was steadily making his way through the field from the back of grid after his incident in yesterday’s qualifying session.

Other disappointments in the race came from Dave Newsham, who ended his first race for Speedworks parking the Avensis on the grass from fifth with an issue. Hoping to put aside the mechanical gremlins from 2012, Mat Jackson slowed on track in the latter stages of the race, leaving him a lap down come the end.

The biggest surprise from the race came from Honda Yuasa Racing. A slide through Paddock Hill Bend at the start of the race left Gordon Shedden fighting back for places, with Matt Neal, who acquired some damage to the right rear tyre of his Civic, despite maintaining fourth early on, was holding up the field. Battling between the pair saw Neal hold onto his position leaving Shedden nowhere to go but on the grass on the start finish straight - resulting in a double pit stop to remove the grass from Shedden’s radiator and a wheel change for Neal.

Both drivers made their way back out on track a lap down from the leaders, resulting in them having to make up places in the second race of the day.

In a fight for the lead on the closing laps, a touch from Andrew Jordan’s Honda saw both him and Jason Plato slide in the gravel. With Austin too far back to capitalise on the incident, the pair managed to get out of the gravel and maintain their positions as the chequered flag fell. Despite the soft tyres not performing as well in the latter stages of the race, Austin retained his third position, holding off from a quick Sam Tordoff in the second MG.

An excellent race for Frank Wrathall saw him finish in sixth position behind the Pirtek of Jeff Smith; having started the race from the back of the field after failing the ride height check during qualifying. Colin Turkington also came back to finish eighth, while Ollie Jackson finished ahead of Dan Welch and Will Bratt in a battle to the flag.

James Kaye in the VW Golf rounded out the top fifteen and was the first S2000 car to cross the line, having passed Lea Wood’s Vectra earlier on in the race.

The second race is due to start at 14:17 and with some drivers having a lot of work to do, it’ll make for exciting viewing.

Keep following on Twitter (@nikki_btcc) for the latest information.

Race Classification – Top Fifteen:
1) Jason Plato
2) Andrew Jordan
3) Rob Austin
4) Sam Tordoff
5) Jeff Smith
6) Frank Wrathall
7) Adam Morgan
8) Colin Turkington
9) Aron Smith
10) Ollie Jackson
11) Dan Welch
12) Will Bratt
13) Jack Goff
14) Tom Onslow-Cole
15) James Kaye
 Fastest Lap: Rob Austin – 48.968 (Lap 12)  By Nikki Thompson (photos by Marc Waller) 
BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)BTCC Brands Hatch (photo by Marc Waller)
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