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Brands Hatch BTCC: Matt Neal and Honda fastest in opening practice

Matt Neal Brands Hatch BTCCReigning British Touring Car champion Matt Neal was quickest in the first free practice session for the Brands Hatch season finale.

The NGTC Honda Civics of Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan, running with more turbo boost than they have so far in 2012, set the early pace.

Eurotech driver Jordan topped the timesheets for much of the damp session before Shedden recorded a 1m44.996s lap heading into the final 10 minutes.

Then reigning champion Neal, who had been in the top four throughout the session, put in a charge in the closing moments.

He set a time of 1m44.697s to go top, then improved to 1m44.510s, and also set a third time quicker than anyone else.

Behind the works Hondas, Jordan's earlier time was good enough for third.

Jason Plato's works MG6 was fourth, over a second behind Neal, meaning that the four title contenders were in the top four.

Best of the rest was Will Bratt in his Rob Austin Audi, showing much improved performance over recent outings.

Mat Jackson completed the all-NGTC top six with Motorbase's Ford Focus, while Dave Newsham (ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra) was the top S2000 runner in seventh.

Dan Welch improved right as the flag came out to go eighth in his Proton.

BTCC rookie Aaron Williamson was 18th in Tony Gilham's S2000 Honda Civic.

Pos  Driver           Team/Car           Time        Gap 
 1.  Matt Neal        Honda              1m44.510s           
 2.  Gordon Shedden   Honda              1m44.996s   + 0.486s
 3.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Honda     1m45.491s   + 0.981s
 4.  Jason Plato      MG                 1m45.710s   + 1.200s
 5.  Will Bratt       Austin Audi        1m45.804s   + 1.294s
 6.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford     1m46.207s   + 1.697s
 7.  Dave Newsham     ES Vauxhall        1m46.241s   + 1.731s
 8.  Daniel Welch     Welch Proton       1m46.289s   + 1.779s
 9.  Aron Smith       Motorbase Ford     1m46.554s   + 2.044s
10.  Ollie Jackson    AmD Volkswagen     1m46.595s   + 2.085s
11.  Chris James      ES Vauxhall        1m46.950s   + 2.440s
12.  Rob Austin       Austin Audi        1m47.121s   + 2.611s
13.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW            1m47.356s   + 2.846s
14.  Andy Neate       MG                 1m47.609s   + 3.099s
15.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW            1m47.688s   + 3.178s
16.  Lea Wood         Wood Vauxhall      1m47.789s   + 3.279s
17.  Adam Morgan      Speedworks Toyota  1m48.029s   + 3.519s
18.  Aaron Williamson HARD Civic         1m48.603s   + 4.093s
19.  Jeff Smith       Eurotech Honda     1m48.936s   + 4.426s
20.  Tony Hughes      Speedworks Toyota  1m49.377s   + 4.867s
21.  Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford     1m54.616s  + 10.106s
22.  Tom Onslow-Cole  WSR BMW            1m59.455s  + 14.945s
23.  Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota     -          -
24.  Tony Gilham      Thorney Vauxhall   -          -
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