Neal takes series lead after Thruxton double as others suffer misfortune

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Matt Neal ended his day at the fastest circuit in the UK with two victories. Defending BTCC Gordon Shedden was also a winner to give Honda the sweep at Thruxton.

Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal has taken the lead in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, after bringing up his half century in wins as he took double victory at the Hampshire circuit.

Neal now leads the championship thanks to Andrew Jordan, for Pirtek Racing, getting a puncture on the last lap of race 1 which he had led all race from pole position eventually limping across the line in 11th. Jason Plato in his MG KX Momentum MG 6 also suffered the same fate as Jordan when he got a puncture in race 3 whilst in a commanding lead; meaning 2nd place in race 1 was his best result of the day after he faded in race 2 finishing 5th after challenging for the lead early on, ending the day 16 points off of Neal.

The second works Honda belonging to reigning champion Gordon Shedden made it a Honda Yuasa Racing Thruxton clean sweep, after he took the final win of the day in race 3. Although Shedden also suffered misfortune as his day got off to the worst possible start after he made contact with Plato on the opening lap of race 1 which sent him into the barriers. Shedden did however, also produced a fine recovery drive in race 2 driving from the back of the grid to 3rd which he snatched on the final lap from Jordan.

After being gifted race 1 thanks to Jordan’s last lap puncture, Neal then cruised to victory in race 2 before he then battled his way through the field in race 3 to take 2nd place from 9th on the grid. As a result Neal, who now has 51 BTCC wins to his name, leaves Thruxton with a 13 point lead in the standings from Jordan. Speaking after his fine weekend Neal said, “The wins feel as sweet as the first one. I’m absolutely stoked – just chuffed to bits with the whole day. I am over the moon for the team. Sat on the grid in ninth with weight, I was hoping for top five or six, and if I could sneak on the podium it would be a real bonus. So I’m stoked to get second and a 1-2 with Flash.”

Apart from Neal, undoubtedly the star of the day was Tom Onslow-Cole in his Team Hard PPCGB.COM Kraftwerk Racing VW Passat which continues to go from strength to strength as he finished the day with results of 3rd, 2nd 4th and double Independent victory. After his fantastic day an ecstatic Onslow-Cole said, “This has been a very good weekend – we’ve racked up quite an impressive points haul. We thought the car would be good here but I’d be lying if I said we were expecting two podiums. It’s a little too early to say if we’re here to stay but the pressures on now!”

Race 3 was by far the most chaotic thanks to the reverse grids which saw some new names at the front of the grid and made for some exciting action. In only his 3rd BTCC meeting it was Jack Goff who sat on pole in his Team Hard RCIB Insurance Racing Vauxhall Insignia after a fine 9th place in race 2.

Alongside Goff was the Cicely Racing Toyota Avensis of Adam Morgan and he quickly got into the lead. However as he passed through Church on lap 1, the fastest corner in the country, he lost the back end on cold tyres and took to the grass; although he was able to keep the lead but had to pit a couple of laps later to remove the grass from his radiators.

Sadly for Goff, the reigning Clio Cup Champion had a target on his Vauxhall Insignia and, after a couple of off track excursions, he finally got hit one final time around the back of the circuit on lap 2 which he didn’t get back on track from. This let Jeff Smith take the lead in the second Pirtek Racing Honda Civic and he did a fine job defending from Plato until he eventually succumbed to the inevitable and lost the lead.

Despite this he held on for a podium position for much of the race before he spun the Civic whilst trying desperately hard to defend his position from Neal and eventually finished in 6th. Plato by now had already built up quite a lead before his late puncture, which left all 3 Honda’s at the front with Neal finishing just 0.049s in front of Jordan in second.

This weekend also saw a host of drivers competing at what they would call their local track although none of them had a weekend to remember. eBay Motors drivers Rob Collard and Nick Foster both had various drams during the day and failed to make the top 10 all day. James Kaye in his AmD Tuning.com VW Golf failed to add to his Jack Sears Trophy wins, which included two non finishes, while Dan Welch suffered a heavy crash in race 2 in his Proton; although his Welch Motorsport mechanics worked miracles to get the car back running for race 3 where he showed good pace to finish just outside the top 10.

In the Jack Sears Trophy for the older spec S2000 cars, Lea Wood took a double victory in his Wheel heaven/Houseman Racing Vauxhall Vectra to tie the lead of the trophy with Liam Griffin in his Addison Lee Motorbase Ford Focus, after he had taken victory in the class in race 1 of the day.

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About this article
Series BTCC
Article type Race reports
Tags btcc, ford, honda, jordan, mg, neal, onslow-cole, plato, shedden, thruxton, vauxhall, volkswagen