Andrew Jordan got his BTCC title defence off to a strong start at Brands Hatch
Jordan won two of the three races around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit
Colin Turkington won the third race of the day in his eBay Motors BMW
Sam Tordoff and MG team-mate Jason Plato were both solidly in the points
The new Honda Civic Tourer showed encouraging pace in its inaugural race
Andrew Jordan leads the standings by 15 points from Gordon Shedden
Jason Plato was mighty in the third race, battling from a lowly grid spot to third
The new Wix Racing Mercedes-Benz A-class displayed plenty of potential
Rob Collard enjoyed a solid weekend in his eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport
The Pirtek Racing driver and reigning BTCC champion won the opening race of the season, then followed that up with a repeat performance in race two, despite carrying 45kg of success ballast on his Honda Civic. Although he struggled to 13th place in the third and final race of the day, Jordan has surged to the head of the standings.
In race one of the Autocar-supported championship, the Honda Civic ace made full use of pole position to lead MG's Jason Plato and the BMW of Colin Turkington on the charge to Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. Jordan had a huge scare when his car snapped sideways through the right-hand corner, but he gathered up the moment and retained his narrow advantage over Plato.
That was about as close as it got at the front; Plato paid close attention to the rear of Jordan's Civic as they came up to lap backmarkers, but Jordan remained composed and clinched a lights-to-chequered-flag victory.
Behind the top two, Turkington began to struggle with wayward handling, making him easy prey for Matt Neal and his Honda Yuasa Racing team-mate, Gordon Shedden. It was a promising debut for the new Honda Civic Tourer, which became the first estate-bodied car to claim a podium place in a BTCC race. Before the race's end, Turkington also got swallowed up by an impressive Rob Austin (Audi), Rob Collard (BMW) and Aron Smith (Volkswagen).
Jordan's victory in race one meant he lined up on pole position for the second encounter, albeit with a substantial amount of success ballast strapped into the rear of his Civic. Plato's hopes of outdragging the heavily laden Honda away from the start were scupped by a software issue which stranded his MG 6 on the grid.
Jordan capitalised, stretching out an early lead as a fast-starting Collard and Neal clashed at Paddock Hill Bend, only for his advantage to be wiped out when the safety car was deployed to allow marshals to recover Chris Stockton’s stricken Chevrolet Cruze from the gravel trap.
When the race resumed, Shedden – who had taken advantage of the earlier contact between Collard and Neal – showed most promise of challenging for the lead. The 2012 champion managed to edge his Honda Civic Tourer’s nose alongside Jordan’s door into Paddock Hill Bend, but the reigning champion was able to resist the attack.
Turkington was back on the pace and made impressive progress from the fourth row of the grid. He dealt with his team-mates Collard and Nick Foster by pulling almost identical moves on them under braking for Paddock Hill Bend on successive laps. Turkington then slipped past Neal's Civic Tourer at Druids Hairpin to secure third place behind Jordan and Shedden.
The top six finishing positions from race two were turned on their head to decide the starting grid for the third and final race in front of the 35,000 crowd. That meant the eBay Motors BMWs of Collard and Foster lined up at the front, followed by Neal, Turkington, Shedden and Jordan.
The rear-drive BMWs were able to use their superior traction to pull into an immediate one-two-three at the start, but Foster was handed a drive-through penalty for an infringement at the start of the race. Turkington – starting this race on the soft-compound Dunlops that suited his car well – nipped past Collard but was unable to pull significantly clear of his team-mate.
After finishing a lowly 14th in race two, Plato set his sights on reprising his strong showing in the morning's first race. Partly assisted by a mid-race safety car period that closed up the pack, he charged through the field to latch onto the rear bumper of third-placed Neal. That seemed to spur the Honda racer to raise his pace, and they both usurped Collard in the closing laps to claim podium finishes behind Turkington.
Collard secured fourth position, ahead of touring car legend Alain Menu – who marked his return to the BTCC with a strong fifth position in his Volkswagen CC – and Shedden.
The next round of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes place on 19/20 April at Donington Park in the East Midlands.
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship standings after three rounds (provisional)
1 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing Honda Civic) 48pts
2 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer) 45
3 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport) 44
4 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer) 40
5 Jason Plato (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6) 35
6 Robert Collard (eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport) 34
7 Aron Smith (Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CC) 18
8 Jack Goff (RCIB Insurance Racing Vauxhall Insignia) 17
9 Adam Morgan (Wix Racing Mercedes-Benz A-class) 17
10 Nick Foster (eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport) 16