Matt Neal closed in on second placed Jason Plato in the drivers’ standings after winning a wet first race of the day at Brands Hatch. With Honda’s Gordon Shedden finishing fifth and Jason Plato eighth, Shedden extends his lead in the standings.
Tom Onslow-Cole started from pole position in the West Surrey Racing BMW and had a good start, but Andrew Jordan had a slow getaway in the Eurotech Racing Honda from second, which allowed Matt Neal’s Honda and Rob Collard’s BMW to move ahead of him heading into Paddock Hill bend.
Title rivals Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden were fighting at the start, with Shedden passing Plato at Dingle Dell for sixth place as Plato struggled for grip in the wet conditions in his MG6.
Tom Onslow-Cole lost the lead on lap three, as Matt Neal soared past at Paddock Hill bend, whilst Plato continued to fall back, losing spots to Aron Smith’s Motorbase Ford and Dave Newsham’s Team ES Racing Vauxhall.
Dan Welch was forced to serve a stop and go penalty for a starting procedure error, but thankfully it didn’t hamper him too much as the safety car was called on lap five after Ollie Jackson slid out in the AmD Tuning Volkswagen Golf.
After the restart, Matt Neal continued to build up his lead whilst Plato was briefly able to get ahead of Dave Newsham, but was soon repassed.
Newsham then closed up on Rob Collard’s WSR BMW and fought hard for sixth position, with Collard’s eye on the independents’ title as Jordan was sitting in the independents’ winning position in second.
Newsham was briefly able to pass Collard at Surtees, but Collard was able to grab the position back. The two would cross the line separated by just 0.019 seconds at the end of the race.
Aron Smith made good progress though the field, moving up to fourth place passing Gordon Shedden at Paddock Hill on lap 11. SHedden’s points for fifth with Plato finishing eighth allow Shedden to extend his lead in the standings to 18 points, whilst Neal’s win and fastest lap close him up to just 20 points behind Shedden with just two races remaining.
Andrew Jordan now leads in the independents’ standings by 35 points over Rob Collard, who’s now his only rival for the title, but with 40 points remaining it’s a tall order for Collard.
Eurotech Racing also close to within two points of West Surrey Racing in the closely fought independent teams’ championship.
Race two is due to get underway at 14:00 BST.