5 June 2005
Neal wins, Eaves off.
Team Halfords' Matt Neal took victory in the first race of the day in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, whilst team-mate Dan Eaves outbraked himself to end up in the gravel.
In a very well behaved BTCC race there was very little action for the majority of the race, a complete contrast to the superb battles seen so far this season.
Yvan Muller fought off the efforts of Dan Eaves at the start, and kept the then championship leading Integra behind him, whilst behind Eaves lined up Turkington, Smith, Collard, Plato and Hines.
With such a close packed field on the short Indy Brands track, usually races involved a fair amount of contact, but this particular race day - for the first race at least - most of the field looked to be very well disciplined.
Gavin Smith did find his piece of track rather too crowded on the first lap and a gentle nudge from behind meant the rest of the field powered past the then fifth placed man, as he braked hard to avoid a spin.
Whilst the front four seemed to be getting into a safe driving formation, behind fifth-placed Rob Collard something of a traffic jam was developing, with Jason Plato in the lead Toledo the first of the drivers wanting past the MG. Plato stuck a nose in and made space to pass up at Druids, and very graciously made sure the door was left open for team-mate Luke Hines to follow through, though Collard soon put paid to thaty idea.
Up front Neal was opening up a gap from Muller, though never more that a second, whilst Dan Eaves in the heaviest car in the field, was looking more threatening to Muller, with Colin Turkington's VX Astra lying in wait just behind him.
Eaves looked lined up nicely for a move on Muller at the start of the tenth lap, and had figured all he needed do was brake a little later than the Frenchman and carry more speed down Paddock Hill Bend. Unfortunately Dan's braking was just a little too late to make the corner, and the Thruxton triple winner straight-lined himself straight into the gravel and out of the race.
All the action from his team-mate meant Neal now had a bigger gap, but Muller and Turkington worked hard at closing it down, and behind them in fresh air Jason Plato was gradually closing in on all of them.
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