Dan Cammish led home a Team Dynamics 1-2 finish to claim his first victory in the British Touring Car Championship, but his start remains under investigation post-race.
Championship leader Colin Turkington extends his advantage to 36 points heading into the middle contest at Brands Hatch, out-scoring Tom Ingram in 12th and 14th respectively.
Seventh place or better will seal the title for the Northern Irishman irrespective of what the Speedworks Motorsport racer achieves in Race 2.
Pole man Brett Smith rounds out the rostrum in third – his first podium in the BTCC – heading Eurotech Racing team mate Jack Goff in a Honda domination.
Smith held his own at the start from Cammish, who will be investigated by the stewards for a false getaway, but an undercut at Clearways at the end of the opening lap handed the works Honda the advantage.
Neal and Goff put in an enthralling battle for third in the opening exchanges, but the FK8 came out on top and then passed Smith for the runner-up spot with a carbon copy move at Druids two laps later.
Though Neal closed to within 0.358 seconds of his rookie team mate – who becomes the 17th different winner of the season – he never put in a serious challenge to the multiple Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion.
Ingram’s attempt to close Turkington’s title lead was largely hindered by the BMW man’s team mate Ricky Collard, who dutifully frustrated the Toyota Avensis whilst the Northern Irishman escaped up the road, and once released Ingram was unable to close the deficit.
Senna Proctor’s Power Maxed-run Vauxhall Astra rounded out the top five after besting the BTC Norlin-run Type R of Daniel Lloyd, with Aiden Moffat seventh after heading up a race-long battle.
Breathing down his neck were Andrew Jordan and the Motorbase trio of James Cole, Sam Tordoff and Tom Chilton, the latter dropping out of title contention in 11th.
Though Turkington closed on this fight on the final tours of the 2.4 mile Grand Prix loop, he elected to remain safe behind and headed Oliphant across the line in 12th and 13th.
Ingram was next, with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Rob Austin rounding out the points finishers.
The potentially decisive second race in Kent gets underway at 14:25 BST.
|1||27||M||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||23:10.679||1:31.530||2|
|2||25||M||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||0.368||1:31.356||3|
|3||39||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||15||2.753||1:31.587||1|
|4||31||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||Honda Civic Type R||15||3.362||1:31.759||4|
|5||18||M||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||15||3.922||1:31.748||6|
|6||26||Daniel LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||8.102||1:31.861||5|
|7||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||15||9.218||1:32.044||9|
|8||77||M||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||15||9.428||1:31.962||12|
|9||3||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||15||12.421||1:32.126||15|
|10||20||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||Ford Focus RS||15||12.632||1:32.028||16|
|11||600||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||Ford Focus RS||15||13.237||1:31.774||7|
|12||2||M||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||15||13.46||1:31.950||17|
|13||15||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||15||13.612||1:32.114||20|
|14||80||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||15||13.794||1:32.181||19|
|15||11||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||15||14.059||1:32.339||14|
|16||55||M||Ricky COLLARD||Team BMW||BMW 125i M Sport||15||18.686||1:32.267||11|
|17||48||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||15||19.84||1:32.476||18|
|18||99||M||Jason PLATO||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||15||20.268||1:32.524||13|
|19||33||Adam MORGAN||MAC Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||15||20.846||1:32.175||22|
|20||303||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||Honda Civic Type R||15||21.468||1:32.298||24|
|21||60||Stephen JELLEY||Team Parker Racing||BMW 125i M Sport||15||22.454||1:32.199||26|
|22||66||M||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||Vauxhall Astra||15||22.483||1:32.231||23|
|23||6||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||15||22.861||1:32.331||25|
|24||21||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||15||30.865||1:31.479||21|
|25||23||Sam SMELT||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||Audi S3||15||34.37||1:32.707||28|
|26||54||Josh CAYGILL||AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing||MG 6||15||35.07||1:33.417||31|
|27||43||Ollie PIDGLEY||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||Volkswagen CC||15||35.608||1:33.259||30|
|28||32||Ethan HAMMERTON||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||14||1 Lap||1:32.977||29|
|29||22||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||Honda Civic Type R||13||2 Laps||1:31.588||8|
|R||1||M||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||Subaru Levorg GT||0||DNF||N/A||10|
|R||19||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD. with Trade Price Cars||Volkswagen CC||0||DNF||N/A||27|