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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