Matt Neal heads Honda 1-2-3
Matt Neal claimed the 60th victory of his BTCC career with a faultless lights-to-flag display in race one at Thruxton.
The Halfords Yuasa Racing star headed home team-mate Gordon Shedden and Eurotech Racing’s Jack Goff, making it a dominant 1-2-3 for Honda machinery.
Neal made a steady getaway from pole position and kept the chasing pack at arms length throughout the 16-lap contest, eventually taking the chequered flag to draw level with triple champion Andy Rouse’s number of race wins – the equal-second most victories in BTCC history.
“I hadn’t given much thought to equalling Andy’s win tally, to be honest,” he said. “We all thought Andy’s record was unachievable and even though Jason [Plato] exceeded it, I never thought I would get there. Just unbelievable. Yes, there are a lot more races in the season now, but its tough out there.
“We had a bit of a nightmare here last year and then Donington Park was a rotten weekend all-round for everybody, so to come away with a Halfords Yuasa Racing one-two and a Honda podium lockout on home soil is a dream – a fabulous result. I made sure to look after the car and the Dunlop tyres were superb throughout. It’s going to be a little bit tougher now with more weight in the car, but bring it on!”
In truth, it was only Goff’s podium position that came under any threat from Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram, with most of the wheel-to-wheel racing coming in the lower half of the top ten.
Josh Cook’s Ford and Jake Hill’s VW made impressive moves by the Vauxhall duo of Tom Chilton and Senna Proctor on lap two, before completely undoing their initial good work. The pair went side-by-side through Campbell and Cobb corners before contact sent both cars spiralling towards the barrier – ending their respective challenges on the spot.
Adam Morgan’s Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes nipped by Rob Austin’s Handy Motorsport Toyota at the Complex for fifth on lap five, and he was soon followed through by Ashley Sutton’s Subaru and Mat Jackson’s Ford in some of the most eye-catching competition of the 2017 season so far.
The rear-wheel drive BMW’s grew in strength as the race developed with Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan all making progress through the order. Late drama scuppered a promising result for Jordan, however, as the BMW Pirtek Racing man spun out of contention while challenging Jeff Smith’s Honda.
When the dust settled behind the podium positions it was championship leader Ingram clinging on to fourth from Morgan and Sutton, the latter also scoring an extra point for setting the fastest lap in his Subaru Levorg.
Turkington and Jackson claimed seventh and eighth with the fading Austin fending off the charging Collard at the finish – completing an impressive tenth place for the man who started 18th on the grid.
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 7 – Thruxton
1 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 16 laps
2 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.290s
3 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.372s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.772s
5 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +2.230s
6 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +2.474s
7 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +5.060s
8 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +5.940s
9 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +6.366s
10 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +7.302s
11 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +14.721s
12 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +14.925s
13 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +15.605s
14 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +15.801s
15 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +15.999s
16 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +16.684s
17 Luke DAVENPORT (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +17.127s
18 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +17.283s
19 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +19.683s
20 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +21.023s
21 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +21.373s
22 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +22.837s
23 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +23.869s
24 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +24.039s
25 Michael EPPS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +25.383s
26 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +27.719s
27 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +28.300s
28 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +28.585s
29 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +29.374s
30 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1 lap
DNF Josh COOK (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +14 laps
DNF Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +14 laps