Defending champion Matt Neal took victory in the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch to bring himself firmly into contention for the title, although team-mate Gordon Shedden was able to extend his lead.

Neal ran second early on behind pole-sitter Tom Onslow-Cole but managed to find a way through into the lead and then remained out front throughout despite a mid-race Safety Car period after Ollie Jackson's Golf slid off in the wet conditions at Druids.

Fastest lap meant Neal picked up 22 points from the race to close to within 20 points of Shedden in the standings.

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Behind Neal, Andrew Jordan took second place but maximum Independents points to take him to within five points of the Indy crown, with Onslow-Cole rounding out the top three.

Aron Smith was fine fourth after a strong drive through the field in his Ford Focus, with points leader Shedden in fifth. With Rob Collard and Dave Newsham - who crossed the line split by just 0.019s at the finish - between him and Jason Plato in eighth, Shedden is now 18 points ahead in the standings. Plato appeared to struggle for outright pace throughout, with the MG team set for a busy spell before race two to try and get more pace from the car.

Will Bratt and Jeff Smith rounded out the top ten while 14th for Aaron Williamson meant he scored on his BTCC debut.