Neal is new leader after Croft victory

BACK ON TOP: Matt Neal celebrates his win in race one. Picture: DARREN PRICE

BACK ON TOP: Matt Neal celebrates his win in race one. Picture: DARREN PRICE

First published in Sport

PERSHORE-based Honda Yuasa Racing picked up two victories in the MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft with Matt Neal now topping the table.

Neal, who heads the standings by just one point, team-mate Gordon Shedden and rival Jason Plato shared the wins in North Yorkshire.

The championship now enters a lengthy break before resuming at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit on August 11 and 12.

Shenstone driver Neal set the fastest time in qualifying to take pole position for the first of the races in his Honda Civic.

He dropped to third at the start but fought back to win ahead of eBay Motors BMW driver Robert Collard and Shedden.

Fife’s Shedden then responded with a victory in the second race to reclaim the championship lead from his team-mate.

Neal took the runners-up spot to complete a 1-2 result for Honda in the seventh win in a row for the Team Dynamics-prepared factory Civics.

Behind, Pershore team boss Rob Austin took his first podium result of the season in third in his Rob Austin Racing Audi A4.

Having missed the first race because of mechanical problems with his car, Oxford’s Plato claimed the third to end a six-year win drought at Croft.

Tom Onslow-Cole’s eBay Motors BMW and Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Honda Civic were second and third respectively.

Fourth place for Neal moved him back ahead in the title race from Shedden, who finished the race in sixth.

Plato remains third in the standings, 29 points adrift of Neal.

After Neal’s fourth win of the season, the reigning champion said: “I’m very pleased but all it does is give me the bragging rights for the next seven weeks before we get back to business.

“Plus maximum success ballast in my car for Snetterton!

“Our car, the Civic, is in a class of its own under braking and through the corners but we need to test during the break because Jason and Triple Eight Race Engineering, who run the MG, will come out all guns blazing in the second half of the season.”

Shedden, with an unrivalled six wins in 2012, said: “I don’t mind being second at this stage — the lead is going to keep on changing hands all the way until finals day in October.

“It’s great to get another win but it’s all about scoring as well as possible in every race. I think I achieved that so job done.”

Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team have significantly increased their respective leads in the Manufacturers/Constructors and HiQ Teams championships.

Drivers’ points: 1 Neal 221, 2 Shedden 220, 3 Plato 192, 4 Collard and Jordan 171, 6 Jackson 139.


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