By: Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Matt Neal has taken his second victory of the day at Croft, extending his championship lead to now a commanding 21 points after a lights to flag victory.
Neal led away with Rob Collard moving up to second past Mat Jackson. Jackson fought back but was forced to straight line the corner and fell behind. The big loser from the first lap was James Nash who spun on cold tyres exiting the chicane and dropped to the back of the field eventually recovering to 11th.
Tom Boardman brought out the safety car on lap 4 after he clipped the tyres at the chicane, which sent the Seat into a spin, breaking his left front suspension. Collard had been heavily pressuring Neal prior to the safety car coming out but following it he came under pressure from Jackson as the rear wheel drive BMW takes longer to get heat back into its tyres. However, it was Jackson who lost a place to Gordon Shedden after he ran wide.
Later on in the race the man on the move was Andrew Jordan in the Pirtek Racing Vectra as he first passed Jackson and then later Shedden on his way to his 7th podium of the season. Behind Jackson in 6th was Tom Chilton in the first of 3 Team Aon ‘Global’ Ford Focuses all of which finished in the points.
Continuing his great form from Oulton Park was Nick Foster who took 7th at the final corner overtaking Dave Newsham. This proved a vital move particularly after ITV commentator Steve Ryder drew out ball number 7 meaning Foster will start on pole for race 3.
Behind Newsham in 9th and 10th were the other two Team Aon Fords belonging to Andy Neate and Tom Onslow-Cole. Onslow-Cole had been running in 7th but on lap 12 he lost out to Newsham after running wide losing a further two places including one to his team mate in the process.
However it was a nightmare race for Chevrolet with both cars belonging to Jason Plato and Alex MacDowall failing to finish with mechanical issues. First it was Plato who slowed from 5th with a CV joint failure on lap 11 and then MacDowall suffering oil pressure failure on lap 16 from inside the top 10. Another Cruze failing to finish was Paul O’Neill in the Go Mobile with Tech-speed Chevrolet after Chilton spun him around after he just passed him for 6th coming out of the final corner.
Elsewhere Frank Wrathall spun at the first corner with what looked like some sort of breakage from the rear after showing yet again encouraging pace after having a good battle with MacDowall and Neate. Meanwhile Jeff Smith and Chris James both had heavy contact with barriers, Smith after just losing a place to Nash, perhaps as a result of having dirt on the tyres. James made heavy front end contact with the barriers at the first corner after locking up whilst making an over ambitious move on John George.
The final race of the day takes place at 17.20 BST time so be sure to return to Motorsport.com after the final race to see who can get near Neal heading into the 6 week summer break.