BTCC: Neal denies Sutton top spot at BTCC Media test

Honda's Matt Neal stamps an early authority ahead of the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship after stealing the top-spot from rookie sensation Ashley Sutton in dying minutes at Donington Park.
Honda's Matt Neal has fired an early warning shot to the rest of the British Touring Car Championship field after denying rookie sensation Ashley Sutton the top-spot during the dying minutes at the Donington Park Media test.

The Triple champion had been quiet for the majority of the four hour session, racking up just half of the top mileage set by AmD's Ollie Jackson, but made a late charge with minutes to spare and toppled Sutton's time by just 0.091's.

Sutton was refused the opportunity of regaining his position at the top of the table when the last of a series of red flags to hit the running ended the session marginally early.

Confirming his promising winter development with new team Handy Motorsport, Rob Austin held second aboard his Toyota Avensis but had to settle for third as a result of Neal's late burst of pace.

Fellow Toyota stablemate Tom Ingram continued Toyota's impressive afternoon's work after becoming the second Avensis runner to make the top-five in fourth - despite only completing 11 laps.

Little under 0.2's separated the top-five after four hours of running, the last of those car's being Josh Cook beginning his first official MG outing in fifth.

Another team who potentially looked to have made major strides over the winter was Eurotech. Team boss Jeff Smith had featured highly up the order for much of the afternoon despite falling to seventh by session end.

Smith's Honda Civic Type-R team mate Martin Depper demoted his team principal late in the game. The satellite Honda squad seem to be enjoying a good level of continuity with just 0.001's separating the pair.

WIX Racing's Adam Morgan was the top Mercedes runner in eighth, just over a tenth up the road from Motorbase Performance's Mat Jackson and West Surrey Racing's Sam Tordoff.

Subaru Team BMR were the notable absences from the timesheet after electing not to run due to a small issue with the engine mount of the new Levorg.

Jason Plato, Colin Turkington, Warren Scott and James Cole unveiled the hotly talked about RWD challenger earlier in the morning.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Matt Neal (GBR) Honda Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R
BMW returns to the BTCC with WSR
Ashley Sutton - Subaru Team BMR [pic credit BTCC]
Jack Goff, Eurotech Racing, [Credit: BTCC media]
Matt Simpson, Team Dynamics, [Credit: BTCC Media]
Rob Austin, Handy Motorsport [Credit: Handy Motorsport]
Andrew Jordan, WSR Pirtek BMW [Credit:Jakob Ebrey]
Mat Jackson, Motorbase Performance, Shredded Wheat [Credit: Motorbase]
Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal, Halfords Yuasa Racing [Credit: Halfords Yuasa]
Ant Whorton-Eales,, BTCC [Credit:]
Mat Jackson, Motorbase Performance, Shredded Wheat [Credit: Motorbase]
Senna Proctor, Power Maxed Racing, BTCC [Credit: BTCC media]

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