Matt Neal Takes Points Lead With Oulton Win

Matt Neal won the third and final race of the afternoon at Oulton Park, fighting through from eighth place on the reverse grid to take the win and the championship points lead.

Like Plato's push in the second race much of Neal's work was done in the first lap, making it up to fifth inside one circuit of the 2.2 mile venue. Neal passed Tom Onslow-Cole and the Airwaves BMWs of Steven Kane and Mat Jackson, the latter as he ran wide at the first corner behind Tom Chilton who looked briefly as if he was going to spin sideways in front of most of the BTCC field.

Lap one also saw the first safety car of the race, Martin Depper arrowing straight on at Cascades into the tyre barriers. Closing up the field, of course, helped Neal's challenge as it brought him right to the rear bumper of Chilton in fourth, behing Alex MacDowall, Tom Boardman and James Nash, holding station from the start. Jason Plato, the hero of race two, meanwhile had struggled on the first lap, actually losing a place to run tenth in the neutralised field.

Once the safety car came in the drama restarted, MacDowall's lead last less than a lap extra before he went straight at the Knickerbrook chicane – the official diagnosis: driveshaft – with a piece hanging from the underside of the car's left-front corner, MacDowall abandoning his Silverline Chevrolet Cruza, calling out the Porsche Panamera for another stint at the head of the field, exposing new leader Tom Boardman and his petrol powered SEAT to the anger of the field behind him.

Boardman's restart, however, gave him the breathing room he needed through the first few corner as James Nash – in an undecalled Triple 8 Vectra battled with Chilton through Old Hall, the Ford Focus eventually slipping past through Cascades. Less than a lap later Chilton took the lead, making easy work of passing Boardman as the former WTCC driver left a vast chasm free on the inside of Old Hall.

However, Chilton's lead was short lived, sudden snap understeer sending him squealing into a lurid slide around Cascades. Chilton was able to power out of the slide, but not before he fell back to fourth, handing Neal another place as he harassed Nash, the youngster leading train of as many as ten cars, each fighting each other, though without any more than minimal contact.

Nash had allowed Boardman to build a useful lead, standing at almost a second by the time Neal finally made his way past the Island haipin.

Briefly it looked as if Neal's work would – again – be done for him as Andrew Jordan found his Pirtek Racing Vauxhall stuck with it rear in the air, beached on the tyre wall, after contact from Andy Neate the earned the ire of Jordan, the accident bringing to an end a weekend beset with problems with the series' new spec turbo engine.

Despite the SC boards remaining behind the wall Neal chomped into Boardman's lead, reducing it to barely two-tenths before making a trademark late lunge at Lodge past the black SEAT. Boarman would soon hit further troubles, pulling off the track at the hairpin with a mechanical problem, handing second place to Steven Kane.

Kane would move up to the rear bumper of Neal's Honda in the closing laps and would make several half-hearted attempts to take the lead, though never enough to really grab Neal's attention en route to taking his third win of the season, moving eight points clear of Plato who would finish in sixth.

James Nash finished third, celebrating across the line for the troubled Triple 8 squad, beating the two Aon Focuses. The final point went to Paul O'Neill, some compensation for rotten weekend that saw O'Neill relegated to spectator for the first two races due to a transmission problem.

BTCC Oulton Park Race Three Results

1. No.4 – Matt Neal 18 lap in 29:17.935
2. No.11 – Steven Kane +0.282
3. No.14 – James Nash +1.321
4. No.23 – Tom Chilton +2.109
5. No.21 – Tom Onslow-Cole +2.493
6. No.2 – Jason Plato +3.919
7. No.5 – Mat Jackson +4.376
8. No.6 – Rob Collard +5.248
9. No.44 – Andy Neate +6.185
10. No.29 – Paul O'Neill +8.146