Henry Neal, Lewis Kent share wins again at Silverstone
As had been the case at Oulton Park, Henry Neal and Lewis Kent secured a win apiece as the Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK Championship headed for Silverstone at the weekend for the second round of the season.
Qualifying on Saturday saw Neal secure his first pole of the year in the only non-TCR car on the grid, putting his NGTC-spec Honda Civic on top of the times in what became a six minute shoot-out for top spot after a mid-session stoppage brought about by an issue for one of the VW Cup cars sharing the grid.
Dan Kirby joined Neal on the front row in his PMR-run Cupra TCR ahead of series newcomer William Butler and Kent, with the Hyundai driver struggling with his brakes during the session.
A poor start from Neal when race one kicked off saw Kirby jump into the early lead from a fast-starting Darelle Wilson, who rocketed up from fifth on the grid into second spot, with Kent holding third and Neal dropping to fourth. Butler had also been slow away and dropped to the back of the field.
Neal fought back ahead of Kent into third as Kirby and Wilson battled for the lead, with the Honda man closing on the pair ahead before taking the lead on lap six.
That came after Wilson made a move for the lead at Brooklands and Kirby then tried to reclaim the place at Luffield, opening the door for Neal to slip the Honda down the inside of both the Cupra and the Vauxhall.
Neal tagged the rear of Wilson’s car and dislodged the rear bumper but he swept through into lead and then set about pulling away at the front
Kirby was pushing hard to try and get back ahead of Wilson into second spot and on the 13th lap, he got a run going into Brooklands to reclaim the place. Wilson tried to go back down the inside into Luffield, but contact between the pair saw Wilson go off into the tyres and resulted in Kirby taking a trip through the gravel and plummeting down the order.
That left leave Neal with a comfortable advantage that he would retain through to the flag, with Kent ending up in second spot after coming out on top of a race long battle with Hart, who completed the podium in third.
Despite missing qualifying and starting from the back, Tim Docker would end up with fourth spot ahead of a recovering Kirby after both managed to clear Butler in the closing laps, with the series debutant ending up with sixth spot.
Kent jumped into the lead as soon as the lights went out in race two ahead of Neal and Hart, with Wilson also getting away well to move into fourth as he looked to make up for the disappointment if the opening race.
The Vauxhall was clearly suffering the after-effects of the damage sustained earlier in the day however, with Kirby and Docker clearing the Astra before the end of the opening lap. Butler meanwhile was off the back of the pack after stalling at the start.
As Kent held the lead, Neal and Hart went wheel-to-wheel for second spot, making contact going onto the Wellington Straight before Neal was able to break away and set about chasing down Kent ahead.
Although the Team Dynamics man would close on the Hyundai ahead and briefly managed to get alongside at one stage, Kent was able to keep his rival at bay to secure the race win although Neal retains a two point lead in the standings at the end of the weekend.
Kent however continues to lead the TCR UK standings having been the first TCR-spec car home in every race so far.
Briefly part of the battle for the lead, Hart repeated his race one podium with another solid third place after he saw off the challenge of Kirby after a race long battle between the pair, with Docker unable to keep pace with the leaders and instead being forced to defend from a recovering Butler in the closing laps before securing fifth.
Wilson would be the final finisher, albeit three laps down, after being forced into the pits mid-way through the race.