I’m at Brands Hatch today for the first round of the British Touring Car Championship.
I was standing opposite the front row of the grid as the race got underway and it was striking how much quicker the rear wheel drive BMWs of Mat Jackson (pole position) and Colin Turkington (third) leapt away from second-placed Fabrizio Giovanardi in his front wheel drive Vauxhall Vectra.
Jason Plato also got a better start than Giovanardi and passed him into Paddock Hill bend, but the Vauxhall driver coolly reversed the move to take the lead at Druids. When Colin Turkington fell off at Graham Hill bend it promoted the 2007 champion to second.
The race began on a damp track and a sprinkling of rain half way through brought the battle for the lead to life. Giovanardi reeled in Jackson and nipped past at Clearways as the BMW driver went a fraction off-line.
Plato was unable to give chase in his diesel Seat Leon and had trouble fending off team mate Darren Turner for third. The pressure on Turner was eased when Matt Neal punted Tom Chilton (whose Vauxhall seat Neal has taken over for 2008) out of fifth.
Jackson was right behind Giovanardi as the pair started the final lap but could do nothing to pass the Italian, who started his title defence in the best possible way – victory in race one and pole position for race two, which starts at 2.20pm.