BTCCTouring Cars

BTCC Croft Race 2: Maximum Points for Dominant Neal

3 Mins read

Matt Neal scored every point on offer in race two at Croft by leading every lap on his way to a comfortable victory, setting the fastest lap in the process. The whole race took place in dry conditions, allowing the championship leader the luxury of a comfortable lead, despite carrying maximum ballast.

The Honda Civic got a perfect start from pole position but Mat Jackson was unable to hold off the rear-wheel drive BMW of Rob Collard who steamed through into second. The two very nearly came to blows at the chicane before Jackson was forced to cut the corner. Behind them, Jason Plato had made a poor start, allowing Gordon Shedden to take fourth.

With conditions much more consistent than the earlier race, Jackson couldn't keep up with the two ahead of him and fell into the clutches of Shedden and Plato. On lap four, he became the sole Airwaves Racing driver running after a scary accident for teammate Liam Griffin. The Ford Focus careered straight on at the Jim Clark Esses but fortunately avoided the barriers and speared into the nearby field.

On the same lap, Tom Boardman joined the list of retirees after hitting the tyre stack at the chicane and spinning out with a broken steering arm. With the SEAT Leon stranded in the middle of the track, the safety car was deployed while the car was cleared away.

At the restart, Neal established a comfortable lead once again while Collard got his tyres up to temperature. His pace was still quicker than Jackson's and the Airwaves Ford lost third on lap nine to Shedden, while Plato also loomed large in his mirrors.

That threat disappeared on lap 11 though when the Chevrolet Cruze slowed to a crawl with a suspected driveshaft problem, promoting Andrew Jordan up to fifth ahead of Tom Chilton, who survived a collision with Paul O'Neill which sent the TechSpeed driver into retirement.

Surprisingly, the second Honda Civic of Shedden was starting to fade as the race neared its conclusion and was coming under pressure from behind. Andrew Jordan dived past Jackson into Tower on lap 15 and immediately set off in pursuit of the Scotsman.

On the penultimate lap, the Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra was through after getting a superior exit coming out of Clervaux, earning Jordan the final podium position behind Collard and Neal, who eased off to win by just under a second.

Shedden did manage to hold off Jackson for fourth while a pack of three drivers caught up to them on the final lap. Tom Chilton was the first of them in sixth ahead of Nick Foster who took an impressive seventh despite a puncture early in the race. The mid-race safety car period brought him back into contention and the WSR driver sneaked past Dave Newsham at the final corner, a move that would prove crucial moments later.

Andy Neate and Tom OnslowCole ensured that all three Team Aon entrants made it into the points after the latter of the two fended off a late recovery from James Nash who had spun to the back of the field on the first lap.

Frank Wrathall also had points in his sights in the NGTC Toyota Avensis and was as high as 12th when the safety car pulled in, but his race ended in the Clervaux gravel trap after an earlier moment of contact caused him to lose control on lap 10.

Nick Foster's last corner lunge earned the ultimate reward moments after the race when the random draw determined that the top seven finishers would be reversed for the race three grid. As a result, he will start the third race on pole position, with Tom Chilton joining him on the front row.

Race Result (18 Laps):

Pos Driver Car Team Time/Gap
1 Matt Neal Honda Civic Honda Racing Team 28:57.344
2 Rob Collard BMW 320si E90 WSR +0.991
3 Andrew Jordan Vauxhall Vectra Pirtek Racing +17.643
4 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Honda Racing Team +19.712
5 Mat Jackson Ford Focus ST Airwaves Racing +20.367
6 Tom Chilton Global Ford Focus Team Aon +20.597
7 Nick Foster BMW 320si E90 WSR +20.876
8 Dave Newsham SEAT Leon Special Tuning Racing +21.648
9 Andy Neate Global Ford Focus Team Aon +27.238
10 Tom Onslow-Cole Global Ford Focus Team Aon +32.428
11 James Nash Vauxhall Vectra 888 Racing with Collins Contractors +32.825
12 Tony Gilham Vauxhall Vectra 888 Racing with Collins Contractors +39.956
13 Shaun Hollamby Volkswagen Golf AmD Miltek +45.256
14 John George Chevrolet Cruze with Tech-Speed +51.231
15 Lea Wood Honda Integra Central Group Racing +1:07.463
Not Classified
Alex MacDowall Chevrolet Cruze Silverline Chevrolet +3 Laps
Jeff Smith Vauxhall Vectra Pirtek Racing +4 Laps
Chris James Chevrolet Lacetti Team ES Racing +4 Laps
Rob Austin Audi A4 Rob Austin Racing +5 Laps
Jason Plato Chevrolet Cruze Silverline Chevrolet +7 Laps
Paul O'Neill Chevrolet Cruze with Tech-Speed +8 Laps
Frank Wrathall Toyota Avensis Dynojet +9 Laps
Tom Boardman SEAT Leon Special Tuning Racing +15 Laps
Liam Griffin Ford Focus ST Airwaves Racing +16 Laps


Lap Leaders (1 Pt)

Neal (Lap 1-17)

Fastest Lap (1 Pt)

Matt Neal (1:26.687, Lap 2)

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MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and WorldSBK writer for The Checkered Flag. Contact: [email protected]
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