Neal Claims Second Win in Round Three

Matt Neal made it two wins out of three in the opening rounds of the British Touring Car Championship after overcoming some late race pressure from his Team Dynamics Honda team-mate Dan Eaves on Sunday

Neal Claims Second Win in Round Three

Neal, who had won the opening race after a spectacular last lap move on race two victor Yvan Muller, came through the field from the back of the grid to take the lead before the halfway point but then had to fight all the way to keep his advantage to the end.

With the grid positions reversed from the results of the second race, it was Jason Plato who got away best from the third row of the grid at the start to take the lead into Redgate.

The SEAT driver could not break free, though, and was coming under incredible pressure from Rob Collard and Vauxhall's Gavin Smith over the opening laps - with Neal and Muller having scythed through the field to get up to fourth and fifth respectively by the start of lap three.

After his successful move past Muller at McLeans in race one, Neal clearly felt confident through the corner and dived down the inside of Smith there at the end of lap three to take third, with Muller following him through.

A lap later, Neal was at it again as he lunged inside Collard to take second at McLeans and then he set his sights on Plato, who was heading an ultra-close five car train of cars.

At the start of lap six, Muller dived inside Collard at Redgate and, after a side-by-side dice down the Craner Curves, the Vauxhall ace grabbed third and in the process helped the pursuing Dan Eaves through to take fourth.

Just one corner later and Neal pulled off his McLeans move again when he banged doors with Plato to take the lead - and the contact proved costly for Plato who lost valuable momentum and found himself down in fourth after also losing out to Muller and Eaves.

Muller had a brief go at challenging Neal but his mirrors were soon full of Eaves, who had a look at the chicane on lap eight and, after getting a decent run out onto the start-finish straight, he managed to drag himself past on the inside of Redgate.

Eaves was clearly intent on doing more, however, and soon closed the gap on Neal as the team-mates pulled clear at the front.

On lap 14, Eaves had a little look inside Neal at Redgate and later that lap tried to get a decent run on the leader coming out of the chicane but in the end did not want to risk costing his team the 1-2 finish and he settled for second.

"I was keeping him honest," said Eaves, who eventually finished just two tenths behind. "I was thinking about pulling a cheeky move on him but thought it better to get a Team Halfords 1-2."

Muller came home a lonely third, ahead of Collard, Smith, Plato and James Pickford.

But the man of the day was obviously Neal, whose two victories have moved him to the top of the BTCC title standings with a two points advantage over Muller.

Speaking after his win, Neal said: "It's unbelievable. It is a 1-2 with Dan there, so the job is a good one. I thought I had done a few good moves out there but I looked in my mirrors and saw Dan coming through - he kept me honest."

When asked about his championship chances, Neal said: "It is early days yet. We have done three races we have got 27 to go. Don't underestimate Vauxhall and SEAT, they are big players."

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Donington - Round Three

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Donington - Round Three

Pos Driver            Make                        Time          Gap    Laps
 1. Matt Neal         Honda Integra               19:50.443             16
 2. Dan Eaves         Honda Integra               19:50.714  +   0.271  16
 3. Yvan Muller       Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  19:52.397  +   1.954  16
 4. Rob Collard       Mg Zs                       19:56.396  +   5.953  16
 5. Gavin Smith       Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  19:59.192  +   8.749  16
 6. Jason Plato       Seat Toledo Cupra           20:02.311  +  11.868  16
 7. James Pickford    Seat Toledo Cupra           20:02.600  +  12.157  16
 8. Colin Turkington  Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch  20:07.231  +  16.788  16
 9. Luke Hines        Seat Toledo Cupra           20:07.501  +  17.058  16
10. Mark Proctor      Vauxhall Astra Coupe        20:36.120  +  45.677  16
11. Richard Williams  Lexus Is200                 21:01.485  +1:11.042  16

 Not Classified
   James Kaye        Honda Civic Type-R                   0    D.N.F.

 Fastest Lap
    Dan Eaves       Honda Integra   1:13.200
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