Neal Wins 1 to Take BTCC Lead

Team Dynamics' Matt Neal reclaimed the lead of the British Touring Car Championship with a lights-to flag victory at Brands Hatch

Neal Wins 1 to Take BTCC Lead

The Honda Integra driver made a textbook start from pole position, and despite never extending his lead beyond one second, he never looked seriously threatened by the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatches of Colin Turkington and Yvan Muller.

The Frenchman initially seemed the man most likely to challenge Neal, but in the early stages of the race he had his hands full with holding off the second Integra of Dan Eaves. Repeatedly Eaves looked to the inside at the entry to Clearways, but his impatience got the better of him as he challenged Muller into Paddock Hill Bend on lap 11, locking up and sliding into the barriers and out of the race.

This allowed Turkington to pile the pressure on Muller, and with fourth-placed Jason Plato closing rapidly in his SEAT, Turkington forced his way into second at Surtees on lap 20.

Despite pressurising his long-time rival, Plato was unable to find a way past Muller, with a half-hearted look on the last lap at Paddock that cost valuable momentum his best attempt.

Plato's SEAT teammate Luke Hines claimed fifth place on the last lap after forcing his way up the inside of the MG of former independent Champion Rob Collard at Druids.

Collard was fortunate to hold onto sixth, as Tom Chilton, who had qualified second on time but was relegated to eight on the grid after being penalised for an incident in the last round of the Championship at Thruxton, came close to getting ahead on the run down to Graham Hill Bend.

The victorious Neal will start this afternoon's second race from pole position, although he will be carrying maximum ballast as a result of his win.

CLASSIFIED: Pos Driver Make Time 1. Matt Neal Honda Integra 20:18.601 2. Colin Turkington Vauxhall Astra Sport + 0.304 3. Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Sport + 1.061 4. Jason Plato SEAT Toledo Cupra + 1.602 5. Luke Hines SEAT Toledo Cupra + 2.798 6. Rob Collard MG ZS + 3.323 7. Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type-R + 4.175 8. James Kaye Honda Civic Type-R + 4.179 9. James Pickford SEAT Toledo Cupra + 6.628 10. Gavin Smith Vauxhall Astra Sport + 11.795 NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: Driver Make On Lap Richard Williams Lexus IS200 15 Mark Proctor Vauxhall Astra Coupe 14 Ian Curley  Lexus IS200 11 Dan Eaves Honda Integra 9 
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