Droitwich's Matt Neal has won the third of yesterday’s three HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire – held in soaking wet conditions.
VX Racing driver Neal (Vauxhall Vectra VXR) led home Tom Chilton (Team Halfords Honda Civic) and Adam Jones (Team Air Cool SEAT Leon).
But the outcome of the race was up in the air until the closing stages.
Colin Turkington had built up a big lead but this was eroded during a safety car period. Afterwards his Team RAC BMW 320si came under attack from a queue of cars and eventually he dropped to a disappointed seventh position.
Former double champion Neal, using all his experience, was the first to get past and once in front quickly drew clear of the squabbling pack, setting the race’s fastest lap en route to his first win with the Vauxhall team.
Finishing fifth was his team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi, the current reigning champion – the result extends the Italian’s championship lead to seven points over nearest rival Mat Jackson who failed to finish after his BMW 320si ran off the track trying to wrestle the lead away from Turkington.
Leading positions Rockingham race 3 (provisional):
1. Matt Neal (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Vectra VXR, 18 laps in 31m06.261s
2. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Civic, +4.914s
3. Adam Jones (GBR), Team Air Cool/SEAT Leon, +5.785s
Fastest lap: Neal, 1m35.469s (73.15mph)
Next rounds: Donington Park, Leics, Sunday 4 May
Leading points positions (provisional):1. Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), 63 points2. Mat Jackson (GBR), 563. Gordon Shedden GBR), 504. Matt Neal (GBR), 475. Darren Turner (GBR), 386. Jason Plato (GBR), 35