Matt Neal won the third British Touring Car Championship encounter at Brands Hatch this afternoon.
The top seven from race two were reversed for the event, handing Neal pole. The Honda Racing driver then converted that into the lead at the start, chased by Eurotech Racing's Andrew Jordan and the Tech-Speed Chevrolet Cruze of Paul O'Neill.
Fast-starting Mat Jackson (Motorbase Performance Ford Focus) and Triple 8 Engineering's James Nash touched coming off the line, allowing Jackson to slot into fourth and sending Nash onto the grass.
Jackson overcame O'Neill on the run to Druids a few laps later and inherited third when Jordan, who had been shadowing Neal, suffered his second left-front puncture of the day. Jackson closed on Neal as the race drew to a close, but the Honda held on to win by less than 0.2 seconds.
O'Neill took a lonely third, ahead of Neal's team-mate Gordon Shedden. His Civic spent much of the race attacking reigning champion Jason Plato, winner of the first two races today. He eventually lunged Plato at Graham Hill Bend, and the RML Chevrolet driver gave Shedden room, but ran wide, allowing the Honda to power past on the run to Surtees.
Plato then held off a recovering Nash for fifth, while Rob Collard (WSR) put in an impressive performance to score the best BMW result of the weekend in seventh.
Tom Chilton's Arena Motorsport Ford Focus and Plato's team-mate Alex MacDowall were next, ahead of newcomer Tony Gilham. That result means the former VW Racing Cup and Porsche Carrera Cup driver scored three top-10s on his first weekend in the BTCC with Triple 8.
Despite Neal's win, Plato's tally of two victories and a fifth means he leaves the Kent venue with the title lead. The next BTCC round is at Donington Park on April 16-17.
Results - 24 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Matt Neal Honda 19m50.198s 2. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 0.189s 3. Paul O'Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 3.813s 4. Gordon Shedden Honda + 6.602s 5. Jason Plato Chevrolet + 7.150s 6. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 7.323s 7. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 7.928s 8. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 8.307s 9. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 8.910s 10. Tony Gilham Triple 8 Vauxhall + 11.764s 11. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 13.663s 12. Dave Newsham Geoff Steel BMW + 14.026s 13. Tom Onslow-Cole AmD Volkswagen + 25.806s 14. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 25.910s 15. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 26.427s 16. Andy Neate Arena Ford + 26.996s 17. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 33.353s 18. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 33.589s 19. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 1 lap 20. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 1 lap 21. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 1 lap