Runaway Neal wins again in race two

Matt Neal extended his championship lead by repeating his earlier performance at Croft this afternoon with a more comfortable victory in the second race of the day.

In slightly damp but mostly dry conditions, the Honda driver led the second race from start to finish after a great getaway when the lights went out at the start to lead WSR’s Rob Collard around as they completed the first lap.

Collard had jumped the Motorbase Ford of Mat Jackson at the start of the race, and after an early safety car period to clear Tom Boardman’s crashed SEAT Leon from the track, from then on the race became a battle between the Neal and Collard as they sprinted away from the rest of the field to open out a significant gap up front.

Jackson had been forced to avoid Collard’s BMW at the second corner of the race by short-cutting the corner and lost third place to Gordon Shedden initially as a result, but a huge slide from Shedden immediately afterwards at the chicane dropped him behind the Ford driver again to fourth.

Collard initially put Neal under a fair amount of pressure, but in the final quarter of 15 lap race Neal started to pull out a comfortable gap which extended to two seconds, despite Collard closing the gap by the time the Honda driver had crossed the checkered flag for his fifth win of the year.

As Jackson slipped to fourth place behind the Neal’s team-mate Shedden once again, the man who kept the crowd entertained in the closing stages of the race was Andrew Jordan. The Pirtek Vauxhall driver had closed on Mat Jackson and with four laps to go he dived up the inside of Jackson’s Ford under braking for Tower to grab fourth place, before closing on Shedden’s Honda.

Jordan began piling the pressure on Shedden, who then ran wide enough going through Hawthorn for the Vectra to drive up the inside and take that third place, Jordan picking up his seventh podium finish of the season finishing 17 seconds behind Neal and Collard.

Shedden spent the last lap defending his fourth place from a train of cars that was led by Jackson who could not quite find his way around the Honda man. The gaggle also included the newer-shape Focus of Arena’s Tom Chilton who finished a close sixth, while Nick Foster drove a great race to finish seventh despite an early pit stop.

Foster was the fastest man on track in the closing stages of the race, and snatched that seventh place away from an equally impressive Dave Newsham in the Special Tuning SEAT Leon who, having early in the race made a brave double pass exiting the Jim Clark Esses, finished in the points in eighth, ahead of the other Arena Ford drivers Andy Neate and Tom Onslow-Cole rounding out the top 10.

It was a bad race for Chevrolet, and in particular for Jason Plato. The reigning champion failed to finish the race having run in the top five for much of the race before retiring with a cv joint failure.

The other Silverline Chevrolet Cruze of Alex MacDowall failed to finish also as he was forced into the pits with engine problems, while Paul O’Neill’s competitive top 10 performance was ruined after a tangle with Chilton that left the Tech Speed driver with broken suspension.

Other drivers involved in incidents were Jeff Smith who went off into the barriers at the complex, Chris James spectacularly going straight into the tyrewall at Clervaux, while Jackson’s team-mate Liam Griffin sufferred a big moment when his car decided to exit stage left behind the barriers at the esses at high speed before coming to rest in a farmer’s crop field.

Race two results:

 1.  Matt Neal        Honda                  28m57.344s
2.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW                  + 0.991s
3.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxhall       + 17.643s
4.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                   + 19.712s
5.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford          + 20.367s
6.  Tom Chilton      Arena Ford              + 20.597s
7.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW                 + 20.876s
8.  Dave Newsham     Special Tuning SEAT     + 21.648s
9.  Andy Neate       Arena Ford              + 27.238s
10.  Tom Onslow-Cole  Arena Ford              + 32.428s
11.  James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall       + 32.825s
12.  Tony Gilham      Triple 8 Vauxhall       + 39.956s
13.  Shaun Hollamby   AmD Volkswagen          + 45.256s
14.  John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet    + 51.231s
15.  Lea Wood         Central Honda         + 1m07.463s
DNF     Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet                 15 laps
DNF     Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall         14 laps
DNF     Chris James      ES Chevrolet              14 laps
DNF     Rob Austin       Austin Audi               13 laps
DNF     Jason Plato      Chevrolet                 11 laps
DNF     Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet      10 laps
DNF     Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota             9 laps
DNF     Tom Boardman     Special Tuning SEAT        3 laps
DNF     Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford             2 laps

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