BTCC: Round nine Mondello Park report

Matt Neal won a dramatic sprint race at Mondello Park. The Egg Sport driver worked his way up to the front, despite two safety car periods and several incidents, to claim his second win of the year. Vauxhall secured the front row with Yvan...

Matt Neal won a dramatic sprint race at Mondello Park. The Egg Sport driver worked his way up to the front, despite two safety car periods and several incidents, to claim his second win of the year.

Vauxhall secured the front row with Yvan Muller and James Thompson lining up at the head of the field. A damp but drying track ensured falling times throughout the session and on their last laps Muller, O'Neill and Colin Turkington put in outstanding laps to line up first, third and fourth respectively.

Yvan Muller made a great start from pole position and held the lead into the first corner. Gareth Howell shot away from fifth and moved up to second ahead of James Thompsonm as Neal was delayed by his team-mate O'Neill and dropped down to fifth place.

Thompson got past Howell's MG ZS within a few laps and set after leader Muller who had settled into a comfortable five second lead. However the Vauxhalls again suffered simultaneous reliability problems as Muller's engine cut out and Thompson started to suffer gearbox problems, which allowed the charging Neal into an unexpected lead.

Neal was then rewarded with a brief chance to catch his breath as the safety car came out as he prepared for a hounding to the flag by Thompson, but Neal defended strongly and crossed the line to win by just half a second.

Gareth Howell ran in fourth place until Muller's retirement and then moved up to third until he was slowed by a technical problem causing him to slow sharply and he was hit from behind by O'Neill on lap 18. Both drivers continued to the flag but were overtaken by David Leslie who took advantage of the collision to steal third place.

Neal was delighted with his win. "This is the first time back to Mondello in over 12 years and I have to say the crowds and all the people over here have been ace. We've all had our fair share of good and bad luck this year, so I'm absolutely delighted with the result."

However Thompson was reflective, admitting "I didn't want to buzz the engine because I was having trouble with my gears but maybe if I'd been defensive I could have held him off. But I wasn't to know it would come out. I'll be known as a gentleman racer now".

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Yvan Muller , David Leslie , James Thompson , Gareth Howell , Colin Turkington , Matt Neal