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Diamond Geezer Neal creates more BTCC history at Snetterton

Sunday, July 29 2018

BTCC legend Matt Neal fended off a three way challenge from Jack Goff and Tom Ingram to create another piece of touring car history by winning the celebratory Diamond Double final race at Snetterton this afternoon (Sunday), as the BTCC celebrated its 60th anniversary in style in Norfolk. 

Neal, who has been a key figure in the series for three decades, and a driver not unaccustomed to creating history after claiming a £250,000 cheque for being the first independent winner in 1999, added another record to his name by taking his 63rd win, and one that come with double points too.

Goff was just 0.243s behind at the chequered flag, after coming out on top of a battle with Ingram in the closing stages, with the top three separated by 0.611s at the end of the race.

Andrew Jordan finished a distant fourth ahead of Tom Chilton, while Colin Turkington came out on top of the most exciting battle of the race to claim sixth.

Goff led away from pole and built a lead of over two seconds before the safety car was deployed after Tom Oliphant and Brett Smith came together at the exit of Wilson.

The safety car returned to the pits at the end of lap four, and Neal began to threaten, consistently lapping quicker than Goff and making a move stick at the Wilson hairpin on lap nine as light rain began to fall, with Goff almost going off in the process. He fought back immediately though, putting Neal under serious pressure at Williams with Tom Ingram joining in and making it three for the lead.

Neal's lead was around 0.150s for a handful of laps before extending it to just shy of four tenths at the end of lap 12 as the rain continued to threaten. That margin was to remain fairly consistent throughout the race, and with Ingram threatening Goff in the latter stages, Neal was able to stretch his legs just enough to create his latest piece of history.

Neal commented afterwards: "When Alan [Gow, BTCC Series Director] put his hand out to me on the podium, I thought he was going to give me a cheque again!

"After the races today I didn't think I'd have a chance, and Jack got away from me at the start. But after the safety car the car hooked up and I thought it was on. I'd already written the acceptance speech in my head but then the rain came and I wrote the 'ah well, never mind' speech instead! It feels great to win it!"

Ingram came close to passing Goff on the penultimate lap at the Wilson hairpin, but Goff did just enough to hold him off, though the points gained return Ingram into the championship lead. 

Jordan's race was a lonely affair with Chilton in fifth finishing a second behind him. Turkington claimed sixth after finally making a move stick in a scrap that stretched down to 18th place at one stage.

Turkington, who like many other drivers, finished the race with a rather second-hand looking car after being engaged in scraps throughout, was stuck behind the Honda Civic of Chris Smiley for several laps, and tried to make a move stick on lap 17 at the Brundle/Nelson complex, but took a trip across the grass and lost a position instead. He fought back immediately though, finally moving past the Civic on lap 18 at Agostini. 

Josh Cook, also at the wheel of a scuffed up car, claimed seventh in his Vauxhall Astra with Matt Simpson's Honda claiming eighth by 0.281s from Senna Proctor, who was involved in a three way drag to the line with Bobby Thompson's VW and Ollie Jackson's Audi, with the three separated by 0.065s!

Reigning champion Ashley Sutton's race was ruined by a double 30-second stop and go penalty. The first, for not having his tyres fitted at the three-minute board, was not served properly, and was therefore re-issued, and left him running at the very back of the field throughout.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Diamond Double race top-10:

1. Matt Neal, Honda Civic Type-R, 21 laps
2. Jack Goff, Honda Civic Type-R, +0.243s
3. Tom Ingram, Toyota Avensis, +0.611s
4. Andrew Jordan, BMW 125i M Sport, +4.372s
5. Tom Chilton, Ford Focus RS, +5.389s
6. Colin Turkington, BMW 125i M Sport, +24.111s
7. Josh Cook, Vauxhall Astra, +24.824s
8. Matt Simpson, Honda Civic Type-R, +28.191s
9. Daniel Lloyd, Honda Civic Type-R, +28.472s
10. Senna Proctor, Vauxhall Astra, +31.304s

The next major event at Snetterton is the British Truck Racing Association Championship round on 8-9 September. For more event information, click here