BTCC: Giovanardi masters tricky conditions for stylish win

Fabrizio Giovanardi, Jason Plato, British Touring Cars, Donington Park. 2008, Race 2, 400266

Jason Plato won the first BTCC race of today at Donington Park but the second race of the day was an absolute corker.

Rain had begun to fall as the cars assembled on the grid and the original start was aborted as Andrew Jordan stalled his Honda Civic.

Once the race finally got started Gordon Shedden took the lead off Plato half way around the lap. Back at the first corner a four-way crash eliminated Martyn Bell, Michael Doyle, Stuart Oliver and Alan Taylor, bringing out the safety car.

As the race got underway again further rain began to fall sending most of the BMWs scurrying into the pits. But in conditions reminiscent of the famous Grand Prix at Donington Park in 1993 the rain fell in patches, and those who had changed tyres quickly regretted it.

Shedden went wide shortly after the restart allowing Plato back into the lead, but in no time at all Giovanardi threaded his way past the pair of them. The Vauxhall Vectra clearly thrived in the damp weather, and as Giovanardi worked his tyres up to temperature ore quickly than his rivals he suddenly pulled several seconds ahead of them in one inspired lap.

Shedden fell back into the clutches of the Vauxhalls and Matt Neal passed him with no drama. But Tom Onslow-Cole tagged the Civic as they wound through the Craner Curves, firing Shedden across the inside of the track, narrowly missing Onslow-Cole as his out-of-control car slithered back across the circuit.

Matt Neal dropped out in the closing stages as well after a clash with Tom Chilton – the man he replaced at Vauxhall.

Plato caught Giovanardi again later in the race as the track dried once more more the Italian clung on for a first-class victory. Plato had to settle for second, but that added to his first win in the diesel Seat Leon makes for his best weekend of the season so far.

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