Neal and Goff lead British Touring Car Championship after first weekend

Matt Neal and Jack Goff have taken the early lead in the 2015 British Touring Car Championship. Neal won the third and final race of the day while a string of solid points finishes saw Goff tie with the Honda driver at the top of the championship after the first weekend of action.

Final podium
Aron Smith, Matt Neal and Jack Goff spray champagne following the final race of the day © Matt Roberts

Race one saw returnee Andy Priaulx line up on pole position ahead of Aron Smith, Jason Plato, and Colin Turkington. Rob Collard made one of the now familiar BMW rear wheel drive starts by moving up to second place by the first corner and pressured his team-mate – who was running the soft tyre – for the lead. He eventually took it on lap 14 and held off the Team BMR duo of Smith and Plato who joined him on the podium. Priaulx slipped down the order after his tyres lost grip and eventually finished in ninth place. There was just one retirement from the first race of the year and it was Derek Palmer in the Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing car.

Due to setting the fastest lap of race one, it was Plato who started from pole position for the second race alongside Priaulx. The Honda of Gordon Shedden got himself into second place by the third lap of the race with Prilaux dropping to third. The pair made contact late on in the race as they battled for the second and third podium positions. At the same time race leader Plato – who had a comfortable lead – went off track with a suspected puncture. Martin Depper was unlucky to get caught up in Warren Scott’s incident after the Team BMR driver lost control of his car and slid across the track. It wasn’t the best race for Scott’s team as Smith made contact with Goff and dropped down the order. Shedden took the eventual victory by just four hundredths of a second from Priaulx. 2014 champion Turkington finished the race in third.

After finishing tenth in the second race it was down to Rob Austin to pick the number for the reverse grid. He picked his own number meaning the grid would be reversed from tenth. Austin started from pole alongside Goff with  Neal and Sam Tordoff just behind. Race one winner Collard started from 16th with race two winner Shedden in tenth. Neal got into second in the opening corner while Collard spun off into the gravel. A safety car was instantly deployed while Kieran Gallagher, Palmer, Stewart Lines, and Plato got caught up together at Druids. Gallagher and Lines made contact, sending them both into spins while Palmer and Plato got caught up due to having nowhere else to go. Josh Cook pulled off at the side of the track while the safety car was still out while Scott pitted. Shedden and Aiden Moffat also returned to the pit-lane. The race restarted on lap seven and the race distance was increased to 27 laps. In the last ten laps of the race the top three were separated by very little – Austin leading Neal and Goff. Neal took the lead on the 21st lap with Austin also finding himself under pressure from Goff. Andrew Jordan also joined the battle but the MG driver picked up a puncture, entering the pits after contact with Austin. Goff was flashing his lights at Neal as he tried to find a way past into the lead but it was the Honda driver – in his 25th BTCC season – who eventually won. Goff was second with Smith in third.

Final podium
Aron Smith, Matt Neal and Jack Goff on the podium following race three © Matt Roberts

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