Honda return the favour with a one-two in final racePosted: October 2, 2011
Matt Neal took victory in the final Touring Car race of the day at Brands Hatch to reclaim the championship lead heading into the final three races of the season, leading a Honda one-two.
The team put to bed their disasters of earlier today with a convincing performance, moving from third and fourth on the grid to the lead in only a lap, where they were untouchable for the rest of the race.
Neal beat team-mate Gordon Shedden away from the start, and as the pack bunched up behind polesitter Nick Foster the Hondas took advantage of Andy Neate running wide at Westfield to cut to the inside of the Ford into second and third places.
Neal then got a great run on Foster out of the final corner and drew alongside the BMW and into the lead at Paddock Hill Bend, Shedden folowing him through to second with Neate following them into third place.
Foster’s race turned into a nightmare when he was pushed down to sixth place by James Nash and Paul O’Neill at Westfield on the second lap, before he was then mincemeat for Tom Chilton and Mat Jackson in their Arena and Airwaves Fords respectively.
The Honda Civics finally had the pace they needed to cruise to an easy and very important one-two finish to move back to being favourites for the championship, Neal taking the win after the pair swapped briefly to offer the point for leading a lap, Neal also picking up fastest lap of the race.
“Car was great. Best it’s been all day long but we needed that result for Flash and me, and Honda”, said Neal to ITV4. “It’s just great, the car was really hooked up, we went with two different strategies and weren’t sure how they would pan out, but it was a dream to drive as usual.
“I’d rather have the points in the bag and have a shout heading into Silverstone.”
Shedden shared his team-mate’s relief talking to ITV4: “We really needed it, it’s not been the best to be honest, I should have started faster but the point is that we go into Silverstone with the championship still there. It should be good so don’t miss it.”
Their big rival Jason Plato dropped out of the points early in the race but recovered to 10th by passing Foster out of Clearways while fending of Andrew Jordan, before closing in on Tom Onslow-Cole and passing the Ford with a late dive inside into Surtees.
A superb third place looked to be heading the way of Neate, until he made a big mistake when he got sidewys through Sheene and went of the road and through the gravel trying to save the moment.
When rejoining however, he gave Plato the chance to move up to sixth place as he delayed Tom Boardman’s SEAT, Plato having already inherited a place from the unlucky O’Neill, who was atacking Triple Eight’s Nash for fourth place before suffering a driveshaft failure that slid him off the track at Graham Hill bend and into retirement shortly after.
Third place therefore went to Nash ahead of Chilton in a decent fourth place, and Jackson who capped off a solid weekend with fifth ahead of Plato in sixth. Jackson and Nash therefore keep their somewhat slim championship hopes alive, making it a five-man showdown at Silverstone.
Onslow-Cole finished in seventh for Arena Ford, ahead of Eurotech Vauxhall’s Jordan, Special Tuning’s Boardman and WSR’s Foster, who dropped as low as 12th place having started from pole.
Neal now leads the championship heading into what will be a thrilling season final at Silverstone on October 15/16, leading on 225 points ahead of Plato and Shedden on 220, while Nash leads the Independents championship by a solid margain.
Race three results:
1. Matt Neal Honda 23m35.856s
2. Gordon Shedden Honda + 0.186s
3. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 4.033s
4. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 4.291s
5. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 11.720s
6. Jason Plato Chevrolet + 13.555s
7. Tom Onslow-Cole Arena Ford + 14.820s
8. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 17.414s
9. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 19.750s
10. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 20.129s
11. Daniel Welch Welch Proton + 20.354s
12. Dave Newsham Special Tuning SEAT + 22.451s
13. Michael Caine Motorbase Ford + 23.994s
14. Rob Austin Rob Austin Audi + 24.297s
15. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 25.142s
16. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 28.820s
17. Martin Byford AmD Volkswagen + 29.897s
18. Ollie Jackson Triple 8 Vauxhall + 30.29 s
19. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 54.697s
20. Chris Swanwick Rob Austin Audi + 55.246s
21. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 1m20.699s
22. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 1m21.468s
DNF Andy Neate Arena Ford 13 laps
DNF Rob Collard WSR BMW 12 laps
DNF Lea Wood Central Honda 11 laps
DNF Paul O’Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet 9 laps
DNF Alex MacDowall Chevrolet 5 laps
DNF Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 3 laps
DNF Tony Gilham Geoff Steel BMW 1 lap
Championship standings after round 9 of 10: