Eaves Wins as Neal Closes on Title

Dan Eaves claimed his fifth British Touring Car Championship victory of the season with a flawless lights-to-flag victory on the Brands Hatch grand prix circuit

Eaves Wins as Neal Closes on Title

While Eaves converted pole position into the lead over fellow front-row starter Gavin Smith's Vauxhall, Team Halfords' attention was firmly on teammate Matt Neal, who settled into fourth place behind title rival Yvan Muller. Behind them the third Halfords Integra of Gareth Howell was riding shotgun for Neal, protecting him from the charging SEAT Toledo of Jason Plato.

Muller was in no position to be attacking for the top two places, and had his hands full with holding off the challenge of Neal. While the pair battled, first Plato and then Howell joined the queue, but the Frenchman held firm.

With Neal's priority being taking a race finish, he wasn't willing to make a risky move on Muller, but his comfort zone was removed on lap 10 when Plato got past Howell for fifth at Druids. Two laps later, Neal's run out of Clearways was compromised by Muller's immaculate defending, allowing Plato to execute an inch-perfect pass on Neal on the inside of Paddock Hill Bend. In their wake, Rob Collard's MG ZS found itself in the Paddock gravel after contact with Howell, who he had passed into Surtees the lap before, with an attempted late move up the inside.

With the safety car briefly deployed to clear up Collard, Eaves executed a superb restart to re-establish himself in the lead over Smith. However, with Muller now right behind him, the Vauxhall driver was forced to let his team leader by on the outside of Clearways. The resulting loss of momentum was costly for Smith who, while before the safety car was guaranteed a superb second place, found himself shuffled back behind Plato, Neal and Howell.

Colin Turkington claimed seventh place after a troubled race, holding off the Synchro Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R of James Kaye and the SEAT of James Pickford, who was forced to start from the pit-lane with a clutch problem.

CLASSIFIED: Pos  Driver Car Time  1.  Dan Eaves  Honda Integra   24:35.507  2.  Yvan Muller  Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  +  1.089  3.  Jason Plato  SEAT Toledo Cupra  +  1.430  4.  Matt Neal  Honda Integra  +  1.895  5.  Gareth Howell  Honda Integra  +  2.121  6.  Gavin Smith  Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  +  3.680  7.  Colin Turkington  Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  +  4.043  8.  James Kaye  Honda Civic Type-R  +  5.066  9.  James Pickford  SEAT Toledo Cupra  +  5.266 10.  Jason Hughes  MG ZS  +  8.788 11.  Richard Williams  Lexus IS200  +  9.326 12.  Andy Neate  Vauxhall Astra Coupe   + 16.147 13.  Fiona Leggate  Vauxhall Astra Coupe   + 16.405 14.  Ian Curley  Lexus IS200   + 18.054 NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: Driver Make On Lap Luke Hines  SEAT Toledo Cupra  14 Rob Collard  MG ZS  11 Mark Proctor  Vauxhall Astra Coupe  11 Fastest Lap: Dan Eaves, 1:33.178 on lap 2 
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About this article

Series BTCC
Drivers Matt Neal
Author Edd Straw
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