BTCC Brands Hatch Indy Race 2: Matt Neal Scores First NGTC Win

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Matt Neal leads Jason Plato into Surtees (Photo Credit: Chris Ebrey Photography)

Matt Neal leads Jason Plato into Surtees (Photo Credit: Chris Ebrey Photography)

Matt Neal took the first win for the NGTC spec touring cars, holding off perennial rival Jason Plato during a mid-race scrap in the second race of the day at Brands Hatch.

Race one winner Rob Collard converted his pole position into the early lead, but the opening laps were not all good for the West Surrey Racing, eBay Motors outfit as Tom Onslow-Cole was pulled from third place to serve a drive through penalty for creeping on the grid, plunging him to 20th place after three laps.

After the high point of race one, with all three cars in the top ten, things continued to turn bad for the BMW team. Nick Foster spun exiting Druids after running wide, htting the tyre wall on the inside of the track and flipping the no.18 car to bring out the safety car for the third time in the BTCC races of the day.

“I think I just ran a tad wide coming out of Druids and got on the concrete and it just went,” Foster said after being cleared by the track’s medical team. “I've been used to cars coming out and getting a bit of oversteer and dealing with it, but this went from one extreme and it was gone. I went straight back into the tyres and the crash barrier and it just flipped us over.”

By the time the Porsche Panamera came out Neal had taken the lead from Collard, Plato following through as the two new cars steamed past after Collard ran wide at Clearways. Neal and Plato, both starting the year in new cars were fighting for the lead again, and the battle had all the hallmarks of a classic.

Following Plato – on several laps – gave the right-rear corner of the Civic a tap through the final corner, perhaps trying to ease Neal wide and pull up alongside the Honda to complete the pass. Plato did exactly that, but only after the safety car. Plato got to the inside of Neal to run side by side past the pits to start the eighteenth lap, completing the move under braking for Paddock Hill Bend.

Neal immediately fought back, tapping the rear of Plato's multi-coloured MG as the pair went around Druids nose to tail. Two corners later, and without help from the chasing Neal Plato drifted wide on the exit of Surtees, allowing Neal to pull back alongside and assume the inside line for Clearways, the gently curving front straight and Paddock Hill Bend, allowing Neal to retake the lead.

Whether by tyres or as a result of rear bodywork flapping on the MG Plato was unable to keep pace with Neal, instead he slipped back into the clutches of Andrew Jordan who passed Plato for second place in the closing laps. Jordan took the position with a kerb-hopping but clean move down the inside at Paddock Hill Bend.

Jordan closed on Neal in the remaining laps, cutting Neal's lead to three-tenths before the laps ran out.

As the front three pulled away a ballast saddled Collard slipped back to sixth behind Mat Jackson and Rob Austin, the latter getting past in a robust move on the inside of Druids that left the Audi's front left wing flapping for second half of the race. Jeff Smith and Ollie Jackson finished seventh and eighth ahead of two fine recovery drives.

Tom OnslowCole took tenth away from Daniel Welch on the final lap but Dave Newsham surpassed both of them to take ninth. After his retirement in the first race Newsham had to from 20th, quickly rising to 12th on the opening five laps only be called into the pits to fix damage to the front bumper, dropping him to rear during the safety car to recover Foster's BMW.

Newsham took full advantage of the safety car and one the pack was released again he took three places in a lap, demoting John Thorne, Tony Gilham and Tony Hughes in a single lap, then Andy Neate the following lap.

Ollie Jackson, Brands Hatch (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Eighth for AmD, Ollie Jackson will start the day's finale from pole position (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

A move past Liam Griffin lifted Newsham up to 11th and gaining on the Welch and Onslow-Cole battle for the bottom of the top ten. Newsham gained four tenths on the penultimate and passed both on the run to the line, edging the WSR driver by 0.083 seconds for tenth place. The final flurry on the last lap, however, did not give Newsham his second pole of the day as the reverse grid draw selected Ollie Jackson in eight to take pole position.

Welch a further seven tenths down on Onslow-Cole in 11th and Liam Griffin, Tony Gilham, Andy Neate and Lea Wood completed the points scoring top 15. Wood had run as high as seventh – equally his best ever result in the BTCC – before a drive through penalty late in the dropped him back.

Some drivers' dismal days continued. Gordon Shedden retired with a mechanical problem, Aron Smith notched up a second DNF in his hastily repaired Ford Focus. Niether the Toyotas of Adam Morgan or Frank Wrathall made the grid for the race, their respective Speedworks and Dynojet teams still struggling after their race one retirements.

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