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Matt Neal takes third race honours

Matt Neal has made up for the disappointment he faced earlier in the day to win the final race at Brands Hatch. Neal, who started from pole position after benefitting from the BTCC’s reverse grid rule, led every lap of the race to beat Mat Jackson and Paul O’Neill to the top spot. Neal also went on to set the fastest lap of the race – underlining the impressive performance of the Honda team this weekend despite a number of setbacks.

Click here for the full Round 3 Results.

After the top seven finishers were reversed from race two, it was clear Neal would be the man to beat in race three having set a new lap record in the second race – and going into the final race with no success ballast.

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At the start Neal made a clean getaway and had a better first corner than the first race, meaning he went into Druids with less risk of contact from behind. There was contact between Mat Jackson and James Nash off the line however, with Jackson clipping the side of Nash’s Vauxhall as he lined up a move on O’Neill into the first turn.

Jackson eventually made it past O’Neill on lap five and inherited second position when the unfortunate Andrew Jordan, who started the race in second, suffered his second puncture of the day. It means that Jackson ends the day second in the championship after three solid points finishes including two podiums.

O’Neill was unable to respond to Jackson’s earlier pass and had to settle for third on his first race weekend in the Chevrolet Cruze. By the end of the race he was over 3 seconds adrift of the lead duo, and a further three ahead of the battles behind him.

Another fighting drive from Gordon Shedden meant that he finished the race in fourth. It means he ends the weekend 4th in the championship – an impressive achievement from the Scot and his Honda team after he destroyed much of the front end of his car just one day previous. Plato followed him home to take fifth – the regining champion had been defending against Shedden for much of the race but with maximum success ballast and against the turbo-powered Honda Plato was clearly struggling to hold on to the position.

Nash was able to recover to take sixth, after earlier having dropped as low as 11th after Jackson nudged him wide onto the grass at the race start. Nash’s best-ever weekend in touring cars means he ends the weekend an impressive third overall in the championship.

Rob Collard was involved in a tough battle with Tom Chilton towards the end of the race and they crossed the line in seventh and eighth positions respectively.

Tony Gilham topped off a great debut in the BTCC – adding a ninth place finish to his earlier two points positions. Following him accross the line for the final point in tenth was Tom Boardman – who can be understood for having expected more from the weekend than a solitary point.

The race saw no retirements, although the NGTC cars of Frank Wrathall and David Pinkney failed to start.

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