Neal Takes Surprise Victory

Matt Neal pulled off a major surprise for Honda in the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on Sunday when he stole victory from pre-season favourite Yvan Muller with a last-lap lunge

Neal Takes Surprise Victory

Muller had looked set to take an easy win, after moving into the lead from third on the grid at the start and managing to open up a small gap in the early laps over then second placed Neal and pole position man Colin Turkington in the Vauxhall.

But as the race progressed the Vauxhall's pace appeared to drop off a little and Neal managed to close down what had been a two-second gap to get right on Muller's tail on the penultimate lap.

It looked like Neal would have his work cut out to get past Muller, but his job was made much easier when the leader locked up slightly under braking for the Old Hairpin on the final lap.

Muller lost valuable momentum going up the hill and Neal seized his opportunity to out-brake the Frenchman into McLeans. There was nothing a surprised Muller could do to respond and Neal duly took the chequered flag three tenths clear.

Behind the leading duo, Turkington also suffered from a slight drop off in performance and he found himself at the centre of a mammoth fight for the final podium spot.

That place eventually went to Neal's teammate Dan Eaves, who got past Turkington on lap 13. Eaves just had enough in hand to stay ahead of a recovering Rob Collard in the MG who had had to fight his way back through the field after losing places on the opening lap after being nudged at the Old Hairpin and dropping to seventh.

Turkington eventually finished fifth, just ahead of SEAT duo Jason Plato and Luke Hines.

Results of round 1 of British Touring Car Championship

Pos Driver Make Time Laps Gap  1. Matt Neal Honda Integra 19:43.015 16 2. Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch 19:43.354 16 + 0.339 3. Dan Eaves Honda Integra 19:51.156 16 + 8.141 4. Rob Collard MG ZS 19:52.631 16 + 9.616 5. Colin Turkington Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch 19:55.248 16 +12.233 6. Jason Plato SEAT Toledo Cupra 19:58.239 16 +15.224 7. Luke Hines SEAT Toledo Cupra 19:58.413 16 +15.398 8. Gavin Smith Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch 19:58.618 16 +15.603 9. James Pickford SEAT Toledo Cupra 20:08.209 16 +25.194 10. Mark Proctor Vauxhall Astra Coupe 19:56.497 15 +1 lap Not Classified James Kaye Honda Civic Type-R 16:31.390 13 DNF Richard Williams Lexus IS200 20:23.770 13 NCF Fastest Lap: Yvan Muller 1:12.889
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