Neal fends off Jordan for race one victory

Reigning champion Matt Neal took victory in an incident-filled first race at Outlon Park by holding off Andrew Jordan for a Honda one-two, while there was drama as Jason Plato failed to even start.

Championship leader Plato started the day as favourite for victory after claiming pole position yesterday, but his car was wheeled off the grid before the start with a weld failure in a suspension component, meaning that he dropped to third in the championship behind the two Honda Yuasa drivers.

He could do nothing to stop the fast-starting Ebay Motors BMW of Rob Collard from leaping into turn one first however, where the first three laps saw a five car train battling at the front with Collard’s team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole attacking Jordan for third.

After a few looks at Collard in the early laps, lap four was where Neal made his first lunge at the hairpin, before successfully making it stick at Lodge by squeezing inside the BMW in a move similar to the one he unsuccessfully tried on team-mate Gordon Shedden last year.

Neal immediately began to make a break, leaving Collard in the clutches of the Eurotech Honda Civic of Jordan who gave the BMW a nudge into the hairpin on lap six and then tried to repeat Neal’s move into Lodge corner, but Collard hung on.

Jordan made it stick a lap later however with a helpful nudge on Collard’s rear bumper again into the hairpin, while on lap nine the safety car was called out to remove fourth place man Onslow-Cole after he spun his BMW and bogged it in the wet grass at Cascades.

As Plato joined the pack for a check up on the MG6, the restart was a frenetic one down the pack. Jordan and Neal traded lap times in the last five laps, with Jordan closing right up on his fellow Honda driver on the last lap, but it wasn’t quite enough to stop Neal from taking what he said was an unexpected victory.

“With the boost equalisation we though that we were staring down the barrell of a gun,” Neal told ITV4. “The team worked really hard, we had a good test at Pembrey last week and they gave me a car that was capable. The car was faultless all the way through.

“Coming away with a result like that is something I didn’t expect this weekend at all, I’m over the moon.”

Behind the Hondas Collard took another podium finish, while Gordon Shedden took the championship lead with fourth ahead of Mat Jackson. Dan Welch was a star of the race meanwhile, finishing sixth in the Proton Persona.

Andy Neate took a strong seventh place, his best result of the season for Triple Eight in the MG6 after a battle with BMW’s Nick Foster that was disrupted by a mess at the Knickerbrook chicane.

Frank Wrathall ran wide and retired with overheating problems, while he was followed off by Ford’s Aron Smith who was bumped off the track by Foster which caused a puncture a lap later. Onslow-Cole was recovering into the top 10, but spun off again at Cascades, while Foster then had another incident that this time ended with Speedworks Toyota’s Adam Morgan spinning into the tyrewall at the hairpin.

All this allowed Will Bratt to take a fantastic eighth on his BTCC debut for Rob Austin Racing in the Audi, Foster and Lea Wood (Vauxhall) rounding out the top 10, while ES Racing had a nightmare race. Dave Newsham retired from the race with problems after an off at the final corner, while his Vauxhall team-mate Chris James had three offs in the race, the last one being a huge off at Druids.

Race one results:

1.  Matt Neal        Honda              26m25.203s
2.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Honda       + 0.242s
3.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW              + 2.609s
4.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                + 7.104s
5.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford       + 9.341s
6.  Daniel Welch     Welch Proton         + 9.832s
7.  Andy Neate       MG                  + 12.556s
8.  Will Bratt       Austin Audi         + 17.044s
9.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW             + 18.054s
10.  Lea Wood         Central Vauxhall    + 19.615s
11.  Ollie Jackson    AmD Volkswagen      + 28.242s
12.  Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota      + 50.773s
13.  Tony Hughes      Speedworks Toyota   + 59.738s
DNF    Adam Morgan      Speedworks Toyota     16 laps
DNF    Chris James      ES Vauxhall           16 laps
DNF    Aron Smith       Motorbase Ford        14 laps
DNF    Tom Onslow-Cole  WSR BMW               14 laps
DNF    Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford         9 laps
DNF    Dave Newsham     ES Vauxhall            7 laps
DNF    Jeff Smith       Eurotech Honda         7 laps
DNF    Tony Gilham      Gilham Honda           5 laps
NC       Jason Plato      MG                     5 laps


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