Matt Neal led home Gordon Shedden for a Honda Racing one-two in Round 27 of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the duo making up for their disappointment earlier in the day to dominate the final race as the sun set over Brands Hatch.
With the top ten reversed for the grid, it was Nick Foster who started on pole for the weekend's final race, with Shedden and Neal sitting on the second row. A trademark start for Foster in his BMW saw him storm into an early lead, while fellow front row starter Andy Neate held second briefly before he got bundled down to fourth behind the Honda's on the GP loop.
Foster held his lead for almost the whole opening lap, but a slight mistake coming out of Clearways gave the Honda's a run down the start finish straight, with Neal taking the lead from Shedden, with Team AON's Neate also following through into third.
As the front three broke away, Foster soon came under pressure from the gaggle of cars behind. James Nash, Paul O'Neill, Tom Chilton and Mat Jackson all got by over the next two laps, leaving WSR's Foster in eighth after three laps.
Foster soon dropped into the clutches of a titanic fight for ninth, which included Jason Plato, who won the first two races of the day, his Knockhill nemesis Tom Boardman, Tom Onslow-Cole, Andrew Jordan and Frank Wrathall.
As the front two drove into the distance, Neate continued running in a superb third, by far his strongest run of the season so far. The Ford Focus driver looked set to hold on for a maiden podium finish, until a huge sideways moment at Sheene on lap thirteen ended up with him running through the Stirlings gravel trap, damage from which caused him to pit and retire soon after, a disappointing end to a promising race.
Ahead, Neal held a comfortable advantage over Shedden, but as the race reached its conclusion, Neal slowed to allow the duo to switch places for a lap, giving Shedden a bonus point for leading a lap. After this, both drivers cruised home conservatively, aware of the tyre problems that blighted them earlier in the day, with Neal coming home for his sixth win of the season, Shedden taking his eleventh podium of the campaign in second.
Taking third was Nash, giving the Triple Eight driver a seventeen point lead in the Independents standings. Chilton took fourth, benefitting from a tenth lap retirement for O'Neill, who's Tech Speed Chevrolet suffered a broken driveshaft. Airwaves Racing's Jackson took fifth to maintain his Independents challenge, with Plato missing the chaos ahead to complete the top six.
Onslow-Cole took seventh, with Pirtek Racing's Jordan eighth. Boardman dropped to ninth late on after losing ground when he had to go off circuit in avoidance of Neate after his moment, while Foster rounded out the top ten after a tough race. Taking eleventh to finish as the best NGTC runner was Dan Welch in his Proton Gen-2.
Provisional BTCC Championship Standings After Round 27:
- Matt Neal – 225 points
- Jason Plato – 220 points
- Gordon Shedden – 220 points
- Mat Jackson – 189 points
- James Nash – 181 points