Honda Civic driver Matt Neal left Brands Hatch at the head of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship points standings after three dramatic races.
Neal, champion in 2005, 2006 and 2011, didn’t win any of the three races at the Kent circuit, but he was the most consistent finisher in his Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda, claiming third, second and fifth to collect 43 points.
In changeable conditions on Saturday rising star Tom Ingram had planted his Toyota Avensis on pole position, and he turned in a masterful performance in Sunday’s opening race, leading from start to finish to claim his first Dunlop MSA BTCC race win.
Although there was frantic action further down the order, up at the front the Speedworks Motorsport man calmly fended off reigning champion Gordon Shedden and third-placed Neal, maintaining his advantage even though a mid-race safety car allowed his rivals to close up.
The Subaru Levorg of Colin Turkington was in the wars early on, as was the BMW 125i M Sport of Sam Tordoff after contact with his West Surrey Racing team-mate Rob Collard. Motorbase duo Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan went side-by-side across the line on lap three, narrowly avoiding each other in their Ford Focuses, but the major moment came later on the same lap.
Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott lost control on the run through to Surtees, and Alex Martin spun wildly while trying to avoid contact with the Chevrolet ahead of him. Although the Dextra Racing driver succeeded in that respect, his striking yellow machine went on to make heavy contact with the barrier.
A short safety car intervention followed, which ultimately led to dramas for two particular BTCC race winners. Adam Morgan was the first car to be shuffled down the order, as his WIX Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class dropped to ninth.
Team IHG Rewards Club’s Jack Goff was next to fall foul of the chasing pack as he attacked Ashley Sutton’s MG 6 for fifth. Goff’s failed attempt left the BMW running wide at Paddock Hill Bend, and he found himself down in tenth by the end of the race.
BTCC debutant Sutton got the better of his MG team-mate Josh Cook to finish fourth, Collard took a top six finish while Aron Smith brought his VW CC home in seventh.
Jackson eventually finised eighth ahead of the fading Morgan and Goff, while the second Motorbase Ford of Jordan had to settle for 11th.
Subaru’s introduction to the BTCC was a difficult one as Colin Turkington got caught up in an incident in the early running and team boss Warren Scott was unable to make the start in his Levorg. Both Jason Plato and James Cole reached the finish, although some way down the order as the Team BMR-run outfit continues to develop its quartet of Levorgs in racing conditions.