Tom Chilton overhauls rivals to win Race 3 of BTCC Brands Hatch opener

Tom Chilton won the final race of the British Touring Car Championship season opener at Brands Hatch to move second in the standings, one point off leader Josh Cook

The Motorbase driver won the 25-lap race by 1.995 seconds ahead of podium debutant Rory Butcher, while Matt Neal suffered a dramatic last lap suspension to plummet from third.

Neal was drawn on pole for the partially reversed grid and had the benefit of carrying zero success ballast. But a difficult opening sector meant he fell to third as Stephen Jelley flew off the line.

Having started sixth, the Team Parker Racing driver drew alongside second-starting Senna Proctor for Paddock Hill Bend and then switched to the inside to beat the Subaru Levorg GT into Druids.

The loss of momentum meant Proctor was caught up in the chasing packed and was knocked into the tyre wall on the exit of Graham Hill Bend.

That left Jelley to pull a 0.8s lead over Neal and Chilton, who was starting third but, unlike Neal, on the harder tyre.

Jelley began to suffer wear leaving Neal to dive up the inside at Clearways for the race lead on lap seven.

That left the door open for Chilton to close and try the same move on Jelley a lap later. Chilton held the inside line into Paddock Hill Bend, forcing Jelley to finally yield the place.

As Neal struggled on his softs, Chilton was able to close a 0.6s gap and on lap 14 he again used Clearways to take Neal.

Chilton won the drag race down the main straight to take the lead.

Neal then fell back into Jelley's grasp and the two collided as Jelley attempted a lunge into Graham Hill Bend.

That allowed Butcher to progress to second but he was unable to close on Chilton, who continued to victory.

Jelley completed the podium as his earlier contact with Neal took its toll on the Civic.

On the final lap Neal hit a bump at Paddock Hill Bend and suffered a dramatic left-rear suspension failure.

The three-time champion completed the lap but left a trail of smoke before his car caught fire in the pitlane.

As a result of the damage he dropped down to eighth.

That promoted race one winner Cook to fourth and means he keeps a narrow points lead over Chilton.

Reigning champion Colin Turkington earned his best result of the weekend in fifth, having been let through by team-mate Andrew Jordan after the latter suffered damage.

The third BMW of Oliphant was sixth from Chris Smiley - both benefitting from Tom Ingram's late tyre wear.

Behind Neal was Aidan Moffat, Ingram and Adam Morgan.

Jason Plato ended his first weekend with the Power Maxed Racing squad in 13th, ahead of Neal's team-mate Cammish.

Mark Blundell was 19th as Jordan and 2017 champion Ashley Sutton limped home to 24th and 25th having made a pitstop to remove damaged bodywork - Sutton having been hit across the track out of Druids in his battle for fifth.

Race 3 result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Rory Butcher AmD Tuning Honda 24 19m55.879s
2 Tom Chilton Motorbase Performance Ford 24 3.005s
3 Stephen Jelley Team Parker Racing BMW 24 5.931s
4 Josh Cook BTC Racing Honda 24 8.511s
5 Colin Turkington WSR BMW 24 9.972s
6 Tom Oliphant WSR BMW 24 10.455s
7 Chris Smiley BTC Racing Honda 24 10.682s
8 Matt Neal Team Dynamics Honda 24 10.939s
9 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes 24 13.231s
10 Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport Toyota 24 17.669s
11 Adam Morgan Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes 24 17.931s
12 Jack Goff Team Hard Volkswagen 24 18.326s
13 Jason Plato Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 24 18.626s
14 Dan Cammish Team Dynamics Honda 24 18.832s
15 Bobby Thompson Team Hard Volkswagen 24 19.148s
16 Sam Tordoff AmD Tuning Honda 24 23.057s
17 Rob Smith Excelr8 Motorsport MG 24 23.224s
18 Michael Crees Team Hard Volkswagen 24 23.695s
19 Mark Blundell Trade Price Cars Racing Audi 24 25.950s
20 Nicolas Hamilton Motorbase Performance Ford 24 33.389s
21 Matt Simpson Simpson Racing Honda 24 33.943s
22 Senna Proctor BMR Racing Subaru 24 34.422s
23 Daniel Rowbottom Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes 24 38.270s
24 Andrew Jordan WSR BMW 23 1 Lap
25 Ash Sutton BMR Racing Subaru 23 1 Lap
- Sam Osborne Excelr8 Motorsport MG 21 Retirement
- Jake Hill Trade Price Cars Racing Audi 15 Retirement
- Ollie Jackson Motorbase Performance Ford 12 Retirement
- Rob Collard Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 10 Retirement
- Carl Boardley Team Hard Volkswagen 3 Retirement

Championship standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Josh Cook 44
2 Tom Chilton 40
3 Stephen Jelley 35
4 Rory Butcher 34
5 Adam Morgan 31
6 Jake Hill 30
7 Ash Sutton 27
8 Andrew Jordan 23
9 Matt Neal 22
10 Aiden Moffat 20
11 Tom Ingram 20
12 Bobby Thompson 15
13 Colin Turkington 14
14 Tom Oliphant 11
15 Chris Smiley 9
16 Jack Goff 9
17 Senna Proctor 6
18 Dan Cammish 6
19 Michael Crees 4
20 Jason Plato 3
21 Mark Blundell 2

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