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Dramatic win for Neal, Jackson stars
19 June 2011
Matt Neal held off a charging Mat Jackson to win the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Croft.
On a wet track after earlier rain, Neal took the lead exiting Clervaux for the first time when Jason Plato slid onto the grass and dropped back to third.
From there on, Neal was forced to defend from Rob Collard's BMW before Jackson started to come to the fore, having gambled on a mix of slick and wet tyres.
Jackson had dropped down outside the top ten early on before starting a recovery drive through the field as conditions improved and a dry line appeared.
A mid-race safety car period after Tony Gilham went off at the first corner closed the field up and when it returned to the pits, Jackson made light work of making progress from tenth place.
Sitting fourth going into the final lap, Jackson got ahead of Plato exiting Tower and then took second from Collard at Sunny In, but Neal had just enough to hold off the charging Airwaves Ford to take victory.
Collard settled for third place ahead of Plato while Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan completed the top six. Tom Chilton, James Nash, Paul O'Neill and Tom Boardman also scored.
Elsewhere, Tom Onslow-Cole was eleventh on his return to Team Aon having smacked a tyre stack on the first lap while Shaun Hollamby had to settle for 17th in the Golf vacated by Onslow-Cole having been knocked off mid-race while running twelfth by Nash.
Rob Austin's Audi had been inside the top ten early on before contact from Nick Foster – who had a spin later in the race – damaged the suspension which meant that Frank Wrathall was top NGTC car in twelfth, having also run inside the top ten in the early stages.
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