Neal retains points lead
Honda driver survives difficult weekend
By William Esler. Last Updated: August 13, 2012 8:14am
Jason Plato, Andrew Jordan and Dave Newsham shared the wins at Snetterton, but, Matt Neal retained his championship lead.
MG's Jason Plato got the jump on polesitter Frank Wrathall at the start of race one and led on the run to turn one. Indeed, the Toyota driver's getaway was so poor, he lost second to Dave Newsham's Vauxhall.
Adam Morgan undid all the good work of qualifying when he stuck a wheel on the grass at Williams and spun off. That spin allowed championship leader Matt Neal up to fifth, having already got the jump on Dan Welch at start despite carrying 45kgs of success ballast.
It was not long, however, before the safety car was called for when BTCC newcomer Robb Holland turned across the nose of the recovering Morgan sending both cars into the barriers.
When the race finally got going once more Newsham made a lunge to the outside of Plato at Riches, which backfired as Wrathall nipped past to take second.
Things would get worse for Newsham on the final lap when Andrew Jordan got past to take the final podium spot, before the ES Racing driver was eventually excluded from the results for being underweight.
The drive of the race though, came from Gordon Shedden. The Scottish driver's Honda had burst into flames during Saturday practice, preventing him from setting a time in qualifying and after starting from the back, he came through the field to take what would become seventh following Newsham's penalty.
Andrew Jordan picked up his first win of the 2012 season in race 2, but, the main talking point form the race came from the latest episode in the long running Plato v Neal feud.
Plato had led the race from the start, however, with two laps to go and struggling with fading tyres he was forced to back off through the fast Coram corner.
Neal carrying more speed in the Honda Civic nudged the back of MG 6 sending Plato into a wild drift at over 100mph. Somehow he held it, but, by that stage Neal was past and into the lead. That was not to be the end of the incident however, as Plato returned the compliment with interest at Murray's sending both cars across the grass.
As the dust settled, Jordan emerged in the lead, closely followed by Shedden with Plato third and Neal in fourth.
After the disappointment of race one, Newsham's day finished on a high with his first ever win in the BTCC in the day's final race.
The reverse grid draw put Lea Wood on pole, alongside Newsham ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole and Mat Jackson in the NGTC Ford Focus, which was getting its race debut.
Too much wheel spin at the start allowed the fast starting BMW of Onslow-Cole to get up to second, as Wood lead into Riches.
It was not long though before the Vauxhall driver was back ahead of Onslow-Cole and challenging Wood for the lead.
The first lap was a disaster for Neal, who got turned around by Wrathall and dropped to the back of the field. He eventually fought his way back to finish ninth.
As the Vauxhall's battled for the lead, a queue was forming behind Jackson who having got past Onslow-Cole on the second lap was suffering with oversteer.
Eventually on lap seven the Ford driver ran wide at Brundle allowing Onslow-Cole, Shedden and Plato through as he fell to sixth.
Upfront there was heart break for Lea Wood who slowed on the exit of Williams with gearbox issues and limped back to the pits to retire from the race.
Newsham had no such issues with his Vauxhall and held on to take the win by just under a second from Onslow-Cole with Shedden completing the podium as they crossed the line.
However, the Honda driver was excluded from the results in race three after scrutineers found the car's turbo to be exceeding the boost limit, promoting Jackson to third.
1. Matt Neal- Honda - 255
2. Gordon Shedden - Honda - 247
3. Jason Plato - MG - 245
4. Andrew Jordan - Honda - 218
5. Rob Collard - BMW - 178