Matt Neal takes comfortable victory in calm Thruxton opener

Matt Neal takes comfortable victory in calm Thruxton opener

Photo: Cranham/PSP

Matt Neal fended off an early challenge from Team BMW’s Colin Turkington to convert pole position into victory in the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton.

Turkington’s BMW 1-series made the best start from the front row, but Neal managed to brake later into Campbell on the first lap to hold the line, and from there the former never made it within half a second of the three-time champion.

It marks the first win for Team Dynamics’ new-for-2018 Honda Civic Type R FK8, and Neal’s first visit to the top step of the podium since Silverstone last year.

The car will now also run the full quota of 75 kilograms of success ballast for the first time, with Neal on pole position again for the middle contest.

Turkington could have been prevented with a late-race opportunity had the safety car been dispatched after a heavy tangle between Michael Caine’s Volkswagen CC and the MG6 GT of Tom Boardman at the final chicane, but despite losing the left-rear wheel the latter made the short trip back to the pits without track conditions deteriorating.

Nevertheless, the Northern Irishman will be consoled with his 125th career podium finish in the category.

Neal’s Honda team-mate Dan Cammish completed the podium after fending off Sam Tordoff’s Ford Focus RS for the duration, who in turn edged out Motorbase team-mate Tom Chilton.

Brett Smith was unfortunate to bog down off the line and eventually crossed the line eighth behind Senna Proctor, the Power Maxed Racing driver putting in another strong showing in the Vauxhall Astra.

Josh Cook finished ninth in the sister car, with Chris Smiley’s hatch-back shaped Type R rounding out the top ten.

It proved a frustrating encounter for championship leader Tom Ingram, who was forced into retirement at half-distance with an electrical issue, suspected to be the power steering.

Nevertheless, he retains a five-point advantage over Adam Morgan in the standings.

22 points now cover the top seven, with the competition set to intensify further in the second race at 14:30.

Race result

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 25 M Matt NEAL Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 16 20:54.608 1:17.246 1
2 2 M Colin TURKINGTON Team BMW BMW 125i M Sport 16 0.860 1:17.243 2
3 27 M Dan CAMMISH Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 16 3.699 1:17.591 4
4 600 Sam TORDOFF Team GardX Racing with Motorbase Ford Focus RS 16 4.040 1:17.486 6
5 3 Tom CHILTON Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford Focus RS 16 5.290 1:17.849 7
6 77 M Andrew JORDAN BMW Pirtek Racing BMW 125i M Sport 16 8.922 1:17.734 8
7 18 M Senna PROCTOR Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra 16 9.361 1:17.829 5
8 39 Brett SMITH WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda Civic Type R 16 9.725 1:17.837 3
9 66 M Josh COOK Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra 16 14.929 1:17.819 15
10 22 Chris SMILEY BTC Norlin Racing Honda Civic Type R 16 15.436 1:17.864 9
11 5 M Rob COLLARD Team BMW BMW 125i M Sport 16 15.591 1:17.751 13
12 303 Matt SIMPSON Simpson Racing Honda Civic Type R 16 16.260 1:18.064 11
13 31 Jack GOFF WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda Civic Type R 16 16.780 1:18.279 14
14 33 Adam MORGAN MAC Tools with Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class 16 17.787 1:18.270 12
15 1 M Ashley SUTTON Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg GT 16 18.096 1:18.478 18
16 11 Rob AUSTIN DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta 16 18.526 1:18.451 17
17 15 Tom OLIPHANT Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class 16 19.922 1:18.046 16
18 16 Aiden MOFFAT Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class 16 21.773 1:18.567 21
19 20 James COLE Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford Focus RS 16 23.602 1:18.632 20
20 24 Jake HILL Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing Volkswagen CC 16 24.888 1:18.533 25
21 21 Mike BUSHELL Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing Volkswagen CC 16 26.893 1:18.426 19
22 28 Josh PRICE Autoglym Academy Racing Subaru Levorg GT 16 27.155 1:18.564 23
23 14 James NASH BTC Norlin Racing Honda Civic Type R 16 27.766 1:18.617 22
24 6 Rory BUTCHER AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing MG 6 16 28.022 1:18.711 26
25 48 Ollie JACKSON AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3 16 30.185 1:18.082 29
26 19 Bobby THOMPSON Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars Volkswagen CC 16 38.299 1:18.080 30
27 60 Stephen JELLEY Team Parker Racing BMW 125i M Sport 16 38.648 1:18.356 27
28 23 Sam SMELT AmD with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3 16 38.965 1:18.573 32
R 99 M Jason PLATO Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg GT 13 DNF 1:18.608 24
R 12 Tom BOARDMAN AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing MG 6 13 DNF 1:18.600 31
R 44 Michael CAINE Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars Volkswagen CC 12 DNF 1:18.488 28
R 80 Tom INGRAM Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 5 DNF 1:17.864 10