Neal wins again in a chaotic reverse grid racePosted: June 10, 2012
The race was lead for much of the duration by pole sitter Tom Onslow-Cole, as he lead the way with a great start ahead of his fast-starting team-mate Nick Foster who jumped up from fourth to second to lead a WSR one-two.
Liam Griffin was third at the time, but lost out to Neal and Plato on the back straight, while the second Honda of Shedden tried to keep pace with his main championship rivals.
While Onslow-Cole made a break at the front, his team-mate Foster tried his best to hang onto second, but on lap two Neal was having none of it and forced his Civic up the inside at Cascades, Plato again following him through as he outbraked the BMW heading into the Knickerbrook chicane.
Then on lap three of the race Griffin lost control of his Redstone Ford heading into the high-speed Druids corner and speared left into the barriers, the race coming under saftey car to clear the car while his team-mate Mat Jackson – reprimanded for his incident with Rob Collard in race two – spun out Dan Welch’s Proton heading into Lodge corner under braking.
After a delay made longer by fluid left on the track from incidents, the race only lasted one lap under green when Collard – flying through the field after a great start – shoved Andrew Jordan off the road at the first corner which spat the Eurotech Honda into the tyre barriers.
The safety car was out again, and with six laps of racing left, Onslow-Cole lead Neal and Plato away once again. Neal made his race-winning move on lap 14 of 18 when he dived inside the BMW driver from a long way back into the hairpin to take the lead, while Plato then moved to second past Onslow-Cole up the inside braking for Lodge, Shedden trying unsuccessfully to sneak inside too.
Plato then went after Neal, but made a small mistake at the hairpin which left him defending from Onslow-Cole who upped the pace in the last laps.
On the last lap, the top four were locked together, but Neal held on to take his second win of the day, 0.3s ahead of Plato, with less than a second covering Neal, Plato, Onslow-Cole and Shedden at the flag.
An incident on lap one at Cascades between Adam Morgan and Will Bratt (Audi) caught up Jeff Smith (Eurotech Honda) and Andy Neate (MG) also, Morgan coming off with the most dramatic damage as his windscreen flew out during the spin, Neate retiring meanwhile with a mechanical problem.
“I’ll sleep well tonight!” said Neal to ITV4. “When we were in the pack I was conscious about Jason but every lap I made a place he was through as well.
“Great result for everyone at Honda Yuasa Racing, this Civic is a little beauty at the minute.”
Plato was also very satisfied with his two podiums after his race one drama. “I was trying to outfox him on the oil!” he said. “Trying to play a bit of cat and mouse, it was a good race, a great recovery for us after the first race to get two podiums.”
Finishing in a career-best fifth was the impressive Lea Wood in the Vauxhall Vectra, ahead of the arguing pair of Collard and Jackson, Collard having edged the Ford onto the grass to get past at Cascades late in the race.
Foster slipped to eighth by the end of the race ahead of the recovering Frank Wrathall, while Tony Gilham rounded out the top ten in the Team HARD Honda Civic, ahead of Jeff Smith and Chris James.
Shedden will now head to Croft circuit in two weeks time as the championship leader on 173 points, five ahead of team-mate Neal and 12 ahead of Plato.
Andrew Jordan lost crucial points in the final race after a strong weekend, but leads the independents championship by six points, and has moved up to fifth in the overall championship.
Race three results:
1. Matt Neal Honda 32m00.812s
2. Jason Plato MG + 0.324s
3. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW + 0.891s
4. Gordon Shedden Honda + 1.084s
5. Lea Wood Central Vauxhall + 3.150s
6. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 3.257s
7. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 3.345s
8. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 3.781s
9. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota + 8.751s
10. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda + 9.281s
11. Will Bratt Austin Audi + 13.670s
12. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda + 16.307s
13. Chris James ES Vauxhall + 16.443s
14. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 18.991s
15. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen + 1 lap
DNF Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 16
DNF Daniel Welch Welch Proton 15
DNF Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 10
DNF Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 9
DNF Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 9
DNF Andy Neate MG 5
DNF Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 2