Halfords Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal has made a triumphant return to the top step of the podium after winning the opening British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Thruxton.

The three-time champion held off Team BMW's Colin Turkington to record his first win since Silverstone last year, while also delivering the first BTCC victory for the brand new 2018 Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type-R.

Neal led every corner of the 16-lap encounter after managing to hold off the fast-starting BMW of Turkington at the beginning of the race. The top-two entered the opening complex side-by-side, but Neal ultimately held the high ground and retained a lead he would never relinquish.

Although Turkington set the fastest lap of the race, Neal always appeared to be in control of proceedings as the gap hovered at around 0.5s for the majority of the race. 

Neal later stretched his lead to almost two-seconds but eventually settled for a 0.8s cushion as the pair crossed the line.

Incidentally, the fastest lap of the race - set by Turkington on a 1 minute17.43s lap - finally eclipsed Yvan Muller's 16-year race lap Thruxton record. Neal's time also dipped below Muller's previous record.

BTCC rookie Dan Cammish capped off a near-perfect opening race for the factory Honda squad by completing the podium in third, ahead of Motorbase Performance duo Sam Tordoff and Tom Chilton in fourth and fifth.

BMW Pirtek Racing's Andrew Jordan valiantly battled through to a sixth place finish despite suffering from food poisoning this weekend. Jordan had jumped as high as fourth after starting from eighth, but later fell behind the two Motorbase Ford Focus RS machines.

Senna Proctor was the top Vauxhall Astra in seventh, ahead of Brett Smith in eighth. Smith had started the race from fourth, but a bad start for the Honda runner quickly dropped him out of contention.

Josh Cook and Chris Smiley completed the remainder of the top-ten in ninth and tenth after the Vauxhall runner demoted Smiley late in the race.

Elsewhere, championship leader Tom Ingram endured a miserable opening race after retiring from the action on lap five with a suspected alternator failure. Despite his non-finish Ingram has retained his points lead, thanks virtue to Adam Morgan and Josh Cook only scoring a handful of points between them in 9th and 14th respectively.

Jason Plato was another who didn't complete the full-race distance after the two-time champion pulled his Subaru Levorg into an early retirement.