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Matt Neal tops FP1 times at hot Brands

British Touring Car Championship joint leader Matt Neal topped the times in this morning’s first free practice session at Brands Hatch.

Honda Racing’s Neal set a time of 1:33.344 half way through the session to go top and he remained there until the chequered flag flew, beating Chevrolet’s Jason Plato by 0.120 seconds.

Click here for the full first practice times.

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Gordon Shedden, who had been second for much of the session, was third fastest. Fourth quickest was Special Tuning’s Tom Boardman, who once again showed strong pace in practice having been fourth quickest in the season’s first practice session at Brands back in April.

Fifth was alex MacDowall, with the championship’s most recent first-time winner James Nash in sixth.

Celebrating his 43rd birthday this weekend is Rob Collard, who managed the 11th fastest time.

The top NGTC driver was once again Frank Wrathall – although the Dynojet racer was also responsible for a late session stoppage when he went off at Sheene Curve. After a strong showing last time out at rockingham Rob Austin will be disappointed to have only been 23rd in practice.

Making their race debut in the BTCC this weekend are Ollie Jackson for 888 Racing, who finished his first session in 14th, and Chris Swanwick for Rob Austin Racing, who had a more difficult session and ended up 28th some 5.765 seconds off the pace.

With a total of 29 cars taking to the track this weekend it is the biggest single-class grid the BTCC has seen since 1993.

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