BTCC

BTCC Silverstone Race 1: Matt Neal Win Punctures Others’ Title Hopes

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BTCC Silverstone race 1 podium (Photo Credit: Jon Hobley)

BTCC Silverstone race 1 podium (Photo Credit: Jon Hobley)

Matt Neal led a Honda Racing Team 1-2 in the first British Touring Car race at Silverstone to increase his lead in the championship. Meanwhile his title rivals Jason Plato and Mat Jackson both suffered punctures and ended the race pointless.

The race began with a three car crash on start line. A fast starting Rob Austin tried to pass Liam Griffin but was clipped by the Focus driver. The touch knocked Austin into Ollie Jackson, who span gracefully down the pit straight, luckily escaping contact with either another driver of the pit wall. Tony Gilham was not so lucky, sliding across the grass slapping the metal barrier on the left of track. He joined Austin as instant retirements the safety car scrambled to allow the two cars to be recovered.

The race restarted Jackson ran second for much of the race, pressuring Matt Neal for the lead. Jackson appeared to have the edge around the corners but necessarily defensive and tidy driving from Neal kept him behind. On several occasions Jackson almost pushed the Civic around the right hander at Luffield before, and despite the maximum success ballast sharing the car with Neal, the points leader eased into enough of a lead to prevent Jackson attacking into Copse.

Jackson's approach was complicated by Gordon Shedden, who remained close to the rear of the Ford Focus as the top three broke away from James Nash who had maintained his fourth place grid slot.

Early on Nash was at the head of a train of cars. Not just Tom Chilton but also both Silverline Chevrolets and the other two Team Aon Focus. Jason Plato had made the most of the start to jump ahead of his teammate Alex MacDowall. However, at the end of lap ten Plato pulled to drivers' left down the pit straight with a left-front puncture. Dejected, he limped around an almost complete lap of the National Circuit. Rejoining with fresh tyres he tried in vain to salvage the point available for fastest lap. That point went to Mat Jackson.

Jackson's puncture came just three laps from the end of the race, first showing itself at Becketts when he ran wide, allowing Shedden to snatch a second place he had shadowed all race as the top three circulated split by less a second.

James Nash was the beneficiary, not just as he took the final podium place but also as the points he picked up for the Independents' class win have confirmed the Triple Eight driver as champion with two races remaining.

James Nash (Photo Credit: Jon Hobley)

James Nash clinched the Independent Drivers' title with third overall

With Chilton removed by a drive-through penalty – presumably for straying onto the tarmac run off once too often – Alex MacDowall scored a fifth place finish ahead of Dave Newsham and Andrew Jordan who had tangled earlier in the race at Brooklands.

Rob Collard, Andy Neate and Frank Wrathall completed the top ten. The BMW driver passed Neate on the final corner of the final lap, a move Wrathall tried to emulate, though he came up 0.020 seconds short at the finish line.

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