Matt Neal wins race three at Brands Hatch to reclaim British Touring Car points lead
|By Kevin Turner||Sunday, October 2nd 2011, 17:00 GMT|
Matt Neal has taken the lead of the British Touring Car Championship back by winning the reversed-grid race at Brands Hatch this afternoon.
Having lost the lead in the title race to double Brands winner Jason Plato earlier in the day, Neal made a strong start to race three to outdrag team-mate Gordon Shedden on the run to Paddock.
Neal then took second when Andy Neate's Arena Ford Focus ran wide at Westfield and the Honda completed a strong first lap by passing polesitter Nick Foster (WSR BMW) on the start-finish straight.
Shedden followed Neal through and, as Foster gradually fell back through the field, Neate became the Hondas' closest challenger. But he could not match the pace of the Civics, which drove away into a race of their own.
Such was their advantage that Neal allowed Shedden into the lead at Surtees on lap 12 of 15, so he could score a point for leading a lap, before Shedden returned the favour at the same place next time round.
Neate started to come under pressure from James Nash (Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra) as the race wore on, and eventually had a huge moment at Sheene, which lasted all the way to the exit of Stirling's.
While Nash, Tom Chilton (Arena Focus) and Mat Jackson (Motorbase Focus) made it by the recovering Ford, Tom Boardman (Special Tuning Racing SEAT) arrived at the wrong moment and had to go onto the grass to avoid a collision.
That allowed Plato through to finish sixth. He struggled to make ground initially from 10th on the grid, but had good pace in the second half of the race. The Chevrolet driver will now travel to the Silverstone finale with a chance of stopping a Honda driver taking the crown.
Tom Onslow-Cole completed his fine weekend for Arena with seventh, ahead of Andrew Jordan's Eurotech Vectra, which had started on row eight.
The unfortunate Boardman recovered to ninth, while Foster completed the points scorers after team-mate Rob Collard retired in the Clark Curve gravel trap.
Results - 15 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Matt Neal Honda 23m35.856s 2. Gordon Shedden Honda + 0.186s 3. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 4.033s 4. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 4.291s 5. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 11.720s 6. Jason Plato Chevrolet + 13.555s 7. Tom Onslow-Cole Arena Ford + 14.820s 8. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 17.414s 9. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 19.750s 10. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 20.129s 11. Daniel Welch Welch Proton + 20.354s 12. Dave Newsham Special Tuning SEAT + 22.451s 13. Michael Caine Motorbase Ford + 23.994s 14. Rob Austin Rob Austin Audi + 24.297s 15. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 25.142s 16. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 28.820s 17. Martin Byford AmD Volkswagen + 29.897s 18. Ollie Jackson Triple 8 Vauxhall + 30.29 s 19. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 54.697s 20. Chris Swanwick Rob Austin Audi + 55.246s 21. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 1m20.699s 22. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 1m21.468s Retirements: Andy Neate Arena Ford 13 laps Rob Collard WSR BMW 12 laps Lea Wood Central Honda 11 laps Paul O'Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet 9 laps Alex MacDowall Chevrolet 5 laps Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 3 laps Tony Gilham Geoff Steel BMW 1 lap