Dave Pinkney made the most of being promoted to pole position to streak away from the pack on the first lap of the race. Both BMWs again made good starts and Colin Turkington took second ahead of Jason Plato – but Plato passed him at the end of the first lap and set after Pinkey.
Gordon Shedden arrived in fourth and got alongside Turkington on lap two to take fourth. This provoked a massive traffic jam with four cars abreast running into the last corner.
Incredibly they scrabbled through with no major incident and Mike Jordan moved up to fifth behind Tom Onslow-Cole and Fabrizio Giovanardi up to sixth from tenth. Jordan nabbed fourth from the BMW driver on lap four.
Giovanardi also got past Onslow-Cole and behind them Matt Neal was being harassed by Darren Turner who had made rapid progress from last on the grid.
It took Plato five laps to reel Dave Pinkney in and Shedden shadowed him every step of the way, threatening to punish a moment’s hesitation. The first three were bumper-to-bumper as they began lap six.
The matter was settled when Pinkney went defensive on the way into Campbell but Plato went around the outisde, seized the advantage for the right-hander and passed. Shedden wasn’t able to follow him and in no time Jordan had reeled him.
Shedden made a pass on Pinkney up the inside of Campbell with some contact between the two, enough to push the Alfa Romeo wide and allow Jordan up into an excellent third. Giovanardi was next to have a go and passed cleanly at Campbell on lap eight.
Further back, Turner had moved up to sixth ahead of Onslow-Cole and Neal, then Neal tapped the BMW into a spin at the final chicane. Turner and Neal then both passed Pinkney on lap nine.
The top three of Plato, Shedden and Jordan were covered by less than a second with five laps remaining. But towards the end of the race they slowly began to separate.
The opposite happened with the battle for fourth as Turner and Neal caught Giovanardi – but it was Neal who benefitted, taking fifth from Turner before the line.
Plato’s win keeps him ahead of Giovanardi in the championship race but the battle for the title is well and truly on. The next round is at Croft in the first weekend of June.