Matt Neal produces Silverstone masterclass
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal surged from 12th on the grid to win a final BTCC thriller at Silverstone, which also saw Power Maxed Racing’s Rob Huff and BTC Norlin Racing’s Dave Newsham score hugely popular podiums.
Pole-sitter Newsham made a sluggish getaway from pole position, enabling Huff’s Vauxhall to inherit the lead early on.
Colin Turkington’s BMW had already been shuffled down the order before a huge incident took place, which could also have a bearing on the destination on this year’s title. An altercation involving Stephen Jelley’s Ford and Jason Plato’s Subaru happened directly in front of Turkington and the Ulsterman had nowhere to go. Heavy contact followed leaving the championship contender crawling back to the pits with damage to his 125i M Sport.
Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram picked up the baton in challenging Huff for the lead and the duo went side-by-side at mid-distance, but Huff’s staunch defence was enough to see off Ingram’s Toyota.
Neal was busy making ground and when he disposed of Ingram, Newsham and Adam Morgan’s Mercedes with relative ease, the triple BTCC champion began hauling in Huff’s Astra.
There was drama for Neal’s Honda team-mate, however, as contact between Rob Austin and Gordon Shedden sent the latter’s Civic Type R sliding across the grass and tumbling out of the points.
Huff’s defence was finally broken on lap 21 of 25 as Neal’s Honda slid down the inside at Becketts, and the veteran racer would extend his advantage over the remainder of the race to take yet another BTCC victory.
Returnee Huff and Newsham completed the podium ahead of Ingram, Austin and Morgan, whilst Chris Smiley completed a sensational afternoon for BTC Norlin Racing with seventh.
Experienced race winners Andrew Jordan, Jack Goff and Mat Jackson completed the top ten positions, but it was 11th placed Ash Sutton who arguably had the most to celebrate. With Turkington and Shedden hitting trouble, the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing star was able to extend his championship lead to ten points going into the season finale at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.
Matt Neal said: “We’ve had long weekend, so that was lovely. It’ll make pack up and the journey home a wee bit shorter. It’s great for everybody involed, but it has been a tough weekend. I was a little bit lucky but a lot went for the hard option tyre earlier on and I took the risk. It was a bit of a struggle for me in race two on that rubber through copse, so I thought it’d be a good hunting ground for me in race three, and so it was. I tried to make headway early on and then things settled and I could try and work out where we were strong and others were weaker. It was the fast stuff where we are generally, and it is there where the Honda Civic Type R goes well. I thought it was going to be hard work, trying to pass Rob (Huff) but he left me a little chink of light and I got through.”
Rob Huff said: “We started the weekend 28th so who’d have thought we’d have got a podium from that. What a team these guys are and it’s great to be here in front of some great fans. I really want to get myself back into the BTCC – it’s been a great weekend. Although it’s a front-wheel drive car, it’s got its own quirks and its own tricks up its sleeve. I could see Matt (Neal) coming and I knew it’d be tough to hold on and I wasn’t going to run him out of road. It was great to battle with someone who was here when I was last!”
Dave Newsham said: “It is an incredible achievement for the team to get onto the podium – it’s our first year! I can’t thank Norlin enough and everyone who’s backing us. I like to think I’m doing the business for the guys that put me here. The car was just mega. I had the pace and I gave myself a strong talking to after the worst start of my life. I could have even won it had I done better there. It’s like a win for us. There’s been a lot of investment put into this team. Every time we go out we’re learning more and we’re hitting the sweet spot. It’s a shame for us that the season’s coming to an end.”
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 27 – Silverstone
1 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 25 laps
2 Rob HUFF (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.728s
3 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.997s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.434s
5 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +1.865s
6 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +3.006s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +3.626s
8 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +3.761s
9 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.568s
10 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +6.457s
11 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +6.727s
12 Michael EPPS (GBR) TAG Racing +8.454s
13 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +9.599s
14 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +10.546s
15 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +10.913s
16 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +11.114s
17 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +11.810s
18 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +12.753s
19 Brett SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +14.667s
20 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +14.889s
21 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +14.914s
22 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +1 lap
DNF Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +11 laps
DNF Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +11 laps
DNF Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +14 laps
DNF Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +23 laps
DNF Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +24 laps
DNF Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +24 laps
DNF Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +24 laps
DNF Stewart LINES (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +25 laps