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Matt Neal leads Honda 1-2 as Jason Plato takes championship lead

Matt Neal has won the first race of the day at Rockingham, heading team-mate Gordon Shedden home on a damp circuit. The result marks the first Honda 1-2 in the championship since 2007 and the manufacturer’s first as a works team since 2003. Jason Plato completed the podium after being unable to pass Shedden in the closing laps.

Click here for the full race results.

The race began on a damp circuit and several drivers opted to begin with wet tyres. Polesitter Tom Chilton decided to go for a slicks-front, wets-rear combination, as did his team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole and Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan.

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Tom Onslow-Cole ran second in the early part of the race but after suffering for grip as his wet tyres wore out he slipped off the track and became defenseless to stop those on slicks from overtaking. Onslow-Cole remained on wets for the duration of the race and eventually finished in 8th whilst Chilton, who pitted for slicks, could finish no higher than 11th, despite a last lap battle with Rob Collard for the final points position.

Benefitting the most from consistent driving on slick tyres was Tom Boardman, who sensationally drove from 14th on the grid to finish fourth in his best BTCC finish to-date. Following him across the line was Steven Kane who took fifth from Paul O’Neill on the final lap.

Andrew Jordan, who had been running as high as second early on, struggled with his tyres and finished in seventh, just ahead of the Team Aon car of Onslow-Cole. Martin Johnson had a superb race in his ageing Vauxhall Astra Coupe and finished in ninth despite starting from the pit lane – taking his best ever result in the championship.

Elsewhere there were bad races for several youngsters in the series – James Nash failed to finish on his return to the championship in an Avatar-backed Vauxhall Vectra after contact early on left him with broken rear suspension. Alex MacDowall was also caught up in an opening lap incident and he could finish no higher than 12th by the end of the race.

Arthur Forster finished in 17th position on his debut in the championship. The BMW racer clearly has some learning ahead of him as his fastest lap was over a second slower than the next closest competitor’s.

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