Matt Neal Tops Damp First Practice For BTCC Brands Finale

Matt Neal headed Gordon Shedden in a damp opening practice session for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship finale, the Honda Yuasa Racing Civics fired up to bounce back from their Silverstone disappointment.

He lapped the Brands Hatch GP circuit in 1m44.510s right at the session’s end to top his teammate and Andrew Jordan, who made it a Civic top three.

Jason Plato, second the in championship, was fourth fastest, ahead of Will Bratt who looked competitive throughout in the Audi.

The session started slowly as several drivers completed sighting laps without setting competitive times, with Shedden and Jordan first to show their hands, both taking top spot early on.

Neal held third while Aron Smith was fourth ahead of Ollie Jackson in the early stages of the session.

Plato, competing in the newly-liveried MG6, then split the lead Civics to go second as the MG KX Momentum Racing-run car looked more competitive in the damp conditions here than it did at Rockingham two rounds ago.

As the session continued and the rain held off, the track dried and times began to tumble. With just under ten minutes to go Shedden upped the ante, going half a second clear on a 1m44.996s and the with teams eager to get out for the final few minutes the session grew more frantic, as the likes of Bratt, Dave Newsham and Dan Welch leapt into the top ten.

This was highlighted as Welch, who ended up eighth, set his final lap just before the flag fell, posting the fastest final sector of the session on the way.

Neal’s late effort – he set two in succession quick enough for fastest – combined with Plato not venturing back out, and teammate Andy Neate – who had set his sights on a more competitive showing this weekend – down in 13th, meant the Civics enjoyed dominance at the top of the timesheets, despite the indications early on of the MGs improvements.

The weather remains overcast but with the rain holding off the circuit looks set to dry out in time for the second session, scheduled for 11.55am.