Neal takes historic BTCC win

Matt Neal has won Brands Hatch’s second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race – the first victory for one of the series' newer Next Generation Touring Car-spec machines.

Neal’s Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic came out on top of a race-long battle with old foe Jason Plato’s NGTC-spec MG KX Momentum Racing MG6. Plato briefly nosed ahead – leading over the line by 2/1000ths of a second – before Neal punched back ahead for good.

Andrew Jordan’s NGTC Pirtek Racing Civic also passed the MG in the closing laps with a brave lunge into Paddock Hill Bend to finish second and make it a Honda 1-2 result. Plato was third to make it an NGTC 1-2-3, his car sporting rear-end damage after a scrape with Neal but he at least scored a bonus point for setting the race's fastest lap.

An elated Neal said: "I'm really relieved to get to the end and see the flag because that MG was really fast. I’d even told the team on the radio half way through the race I didn’t think I could hang on but you keep fighting to the end…”

Plato added: “Mid-race the car felt great but then I fell off a bit of a cliff with how I was using the tyres – we may have gone too far with one area of the set-up so we’ll wind that back a bit for race three. I’d say the rest of the paddock is really super-worried about how quick we are out of the blocks."

Mat Jackson was fourth in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST but only just after a last-lap brush with Rob Austin’s Rob Austin Racing’s Audi A4 which finished fifth. Robert Collard, who started from pole position after his victory in the day’s first race, fell to sixth in his eBay Motors BMW which was carrying the maximum success ballast – an additional 45kgs of weight.

Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden should have been right in the mix as well but retired his stuttering Honda in the pit lane at mid-distance.

Jordan’s team-mate Jeff Smith took seventh ahead of Ollie Jackson who achieved his maiden BTCC points finish in eighth in his AmD Tuning.com VW Golf. He has also been drawn on pole position for race three’s reversed starting grid.

After starting from the back of the grid and even a quick pit stop to repair a flailing undertray on his Vauxhall Vectra, ES Racing.com’s Dave Newsham finished a superb ninth – after fighting his way up the order he started the final lap in 11th but within yards of the flag passed both Collard’s team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole and Daniel Welch’s Welch Motorsport Proton Persona, a spinner early on. Onslow-Cole himself had been making up places after a drive-through pit lane penalty for jumping the start had dropped him to the tail of the field.

Lea Wood suffered the same penalty for constantly exceeding the track limits while running a sensational seventh but at least recovered to take the final point in 15th.

The race was disrupted by a safety car period at mid-distance after Nick Foster’s eBay BMW spectacularly flipped onto its roof after crashing into the barriers descending the Graham Hill section of the circuit but the driver was able to walk away unharmed.