Matt Neal claims finale thriller
Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal won a thrilling finale as the three-time champion fired himself back into title contention. The Civic Type R racer kept his power dry before dive-bombing past race-long leader Adam Morgan on the penultimate lap.
The Mercedes duo of Morgan and Aiden Moffat made a stellar formation getaway from the front row and stormed into a commanding one-two in the early laps.
Neal had to fend off the attention from old rival Jason Plato during the opening exchanges before the VW began to fall back, as it again seemed to struggle for outright pace around the tight 1-27 mile Knockhill track.
As Neal hauled his Honda towards the three pointed star machines ahead of him, Plato was falling into the clutches of the chasing pack. A gaggle of contenders was initially headed by the Audi of Rob Austin while the BMWs of Andy Priaulx and Sam Tordoff were scything their way through. Young gun Tordoff passed race two winner Gordon Shedden before making an eye-catching double move around the outside of both Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan one tour later.
The BMW of Priaulx had already seen off Austin before fighting with Team BMR RCIB Insurance racer Plato for fourth. A nudge across the line was followed by another tap on the next tour, which let both Priaulx and Austin through.
Tordoff began jostling with the Audi A4 of Austin after he too had passed Plato. WSR’s Tordoff came off worse in the battle, however, when contact sent them both through the gravel. Austin returned to the track relatively unscathed while Tordoff’s day was done as he immediately retired in the pits with damage.
The race seemed to be unravelling for West Surrey Racing as Rob Collard also spun out of contention shortly after, so it would be left to Priaulx to grab the glory.
Priaulx tried several times to make the move into third having closed down Moffat’s Mercedes at a rate of knots. Staunch defending from youngster Moffat led to the pair to bump across the start/finish line before Priaulx nudged his way past on the penultimate lap. Priaulx’s joy was short lived, however, as officials handed him a 3.5 second post-race time penalty meaning Moffat would score a very popular home rostrum.
There wasn’t enough time for the enthralled spectators to dwell on that piece of drama as all eyes immediately turned to the tussle for the lead.
Despite having held a relatively comfortable lead for the duration Morgan’s Merc had been hemorrhaging time to Neal’s chasing Honda in the latter stages. An unfortunate moment was to follow for Morgan as he collected some car debris that had fallen from a backmarker. Neal eyed his opportunity and made an absolutely banzai move down the inside at the hairpin.
Morgan kept him honest for the final tour but the deal was already done as Neal fired across the line to take another memorable victory.
Race three result:
1 Matt NEAL (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
2 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing
3 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing
4 Andy PRIAULX (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club
5 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense
6 Jason PLATO (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
7 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) MG 888 Racing
8 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
9 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance
10 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing
11 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing
12 Jack GOFF (GBR) MG 888 Racing
13 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed Racing
14 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing
15 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
16 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport
17 Aron SMITH (IRL) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
18 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) AmD Tuning.com
19 Robb HOLLAND (USA) Handy Motorsport
20 James COLE (GBR) Motorbase Performance
21 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing
22 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Welch Motorsport
23 Stewart LINES (GBR) Houseman Racing
24 Robert COLLARD (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
25 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
26 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
27 Derek P ALMER (GBR) Support Our Paras Racing