BTCC Croft Race 1: Neal Battles Back For Win

BTCC Croft 2012 (Photo Credit:

With the ranks making the move to race at Croft, Round 13 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship showed that not everyone was to be lucky to get away scot-free, but it was Matt Neal, who secured another pole position for Race 1, but found himself having to make his way back to the front, as clutch issues caused him to end up behind Honda Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden and Pirtek Honda's Andrew Jordan, as they shot ahead at the start.

But due to an incident involving Team ES's Dave Newsham, Welch Motorsport's Dan Welch and eBay Motors' Nick Foster, the safety car was deployed, as contact between all three drivers, resulted in Newsham hitting the pitwall, instantly ending his race, with Welch also forced to retire, but Foster ended up least affected. His race was mainly spent in the pits, but found himself two laps down after repairs were completed.

Lap four saw racing resume at Croft, with Neal putting pressure on Jordan, with Rob Collard not far behind, as both cars went past that lap, denoting Jordan to fourth place, where he finished. But Shedden was still there to be caught and passed, which Neal did on lap 12, coming into Tower Bend. Collard was still showing the eBay Motors WSR BMW to be a very competitive package by following Neal into second place. 

As Shedden was carrying the maximum amount of success ballast for the race at 45kg, he was unable to mount any sort of comeback towards the end of the race, having a gap between himself, Collard and Neal of nearly five seconds, with Collard just running out of time to slingshot past Neal for the win, taking second just 4 tenths of a second behind.

Rob Austin had a very topsy-turvy race, but secured his season's best finish so far in the Audi A4 NGTC in fifth, as his spoor start from seventh, meant he dropped to 10th place by the end of the opening lap, but his result was well deserved and earned, having fought his way back up the field, with MG KX Momentum Racing's Andy Neate finishing sixth. Tom Onslow-Cole crossed the finish line in 7th, even though his BMW suffered a spin on lap 8, dropping him to 14th. But he seemed to be enjoying his time behind the wheel, as he posted the fastest lap of the race on the circuit.

Redstone's Mat Jackson finished 8th, just ahead of Will Bratt in the other Rob Austin Racing Audi, which makes it the first time both Audis have secured a top ten finish. Jackson's team-mate, Aron Smith finished in 10th, with Ollie Jackson, Tony Gilham, Lea Wood, Liam Griffin & Adam Morgan taking the rest of the positions providing points down to 15th place.

Speedworks Motorsport's Paul O'Neill made his return to the series at the Yorkshire circuit, but his race was to be abruptly short lived, so to speak, as his NGTC Toyota Avensis came to a standstill at the first corner, with him finally coming home in 17th place, having gotten the car running again, with Dynojet's Frank Wrathall failing to finish on lap 14, after having gotten into the top ten, with his Avensis NGTC suffering mechanical issues. But 2001 and 2010 BTCC Champion Jason Plato was worse off of all, as his MG6 was wheeled back into the pits, having suffered an electrical problems, but the Oxford-based driver was able to take some exploratory laps for part of the race, just to get a bit more track time in preparation for Round 14.