Matt Neal heads away from the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting as championship leader, after a brace of podium finishes at Brands Hatch.
The Halfords Yuasa Racing driver picked up results of third, second and fifth from Sunday’s trio of races at the Kent circuit, ending the day five points clear of his Honda team-mate, Gordon Shedden.
Neal followed the Scot home in races one and two as Shedden clinched the team’s first win of the season in the second encounter, Neal praising the Halfords outfit’s performance with and without success ballast.
“A great day”, the championship leader told The Checkered Flag after the day’s racing, narrowly missing out on fourth place in the final race to Andrew Jordan. “I’m more chuffed with the last race if I’m being honest.
“Shame it wasn’t fourth, but that’s still a solid finish on the softs with the weight on. That was the bonus one.”
On the pace of the updated Honda Civic Type-R when success ballast was added, Neal said: “The car balance was good. Nothing wrong with that, but around here this weekend the soft tyre seemed to get to about three or four laps from home and then fall off a cliff.
“Ours went a bit earlier in that race, so it might be weight related.”
The day was not completely trouble-free however, Shedden’s day ending in the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap after a left-front puncture pitched him off the road in race three.
Improvements are expected by the triple champion between now and Donington on 16/17 April, saying: “We’ll be busy, that’s for sure.
“We’ve got a few little issues that we need to sort out. It’s not a cruising ship at the minute; we’ve got a lot of things we need to sort out before the next one and Thruxton after that.
The weekend also saw two young winners in Tom Ingram and Adam Morgan, Neal enthusing that his experience will help him in a potentially wide open title fight against such future stars.
“They’re all quite fast, aren’t they? I had to use a bit of age and cunning I think!”
Championship Standings after round 1/10:
|1.||Matt Neal||Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda Civic Type-R)||43|
|2.||Gordon Shedden||Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda Civic Type-R)||-5|
|3.||Adam Morgan||Ciceley Racing (Mercedes A-Class)||-6|
|4.||Aron Smith||Team BKR (Volkswagen CC)||-11|
|5.||Andrew Jordan||Motorbase (Ford Focus ST)||-11|
|6.||Jack Goff||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||-12|
|7.||Ashley Sutton||Triple Eight (MG6 GT)||-14|
|8.||Sam Tordoff||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||-19|
|9.||Tom Ingram||Speedworks Motorsport||-20|
|10.||Rob Collard||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||-23|