A Diamond Double Works Wonders for Matt
Fittingly Matt Neal – one of the BTCC’s most successful and longest serving drivers – took the chequered flag in the third race at Snetterton, taking double points in the “Diamond Double” race, an extended 60-mile contest to celebrate 60 years of the BTCC. It was a fantastic result for Matt which has catapulted him into the heart of the mix for the Driver’s Championship.
After a predictably dry qualifying, the long hot summer came to a juddering halt as rain swept across the track for race day.
In Race 1 it was Matt’s teammate Dan Cammish who kept the Cobra flag flying, taking third place in his Team Dynamics Honda: It was a particularly pleasing result for the rookie as it was his first race in the front-wheel-drive car in full wet conditions. Rob Austin should also have been satisfied with his first race of the day, holding on to sixth spot after a great scrap
Other drivers using Cobra seats weren’t so fortunate. Tom Ingram’s second position in the driver’s championship was jeopardised when his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota was forced to retire after only three laps, while Championship leader Colin Turkington, hampered by 75kg of success ballast, held on to his advantage at the top of the standings despite only scoring a single point for 15th spot.
Race 2 again proved to be challenging for “Cobra” drivers: Following an alternator failure in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis in Race 1, Tom Ingram started 27th on the grid. A barnstorming first lap lifted him to 12th at the end of lap 1 and he continued to relentlessly pick off his rivals, finally out-dragging Dan Cammish on the run out of the final corner to cross the line just 0.04s ahead of the Honda to score an unlikely podium.
So, all attention tuned to the last race of the day – the Diamond Double.
A separate qualifying session on Saturday – with all cars qualifying at their base weights – replaced the usual reversed grid. It resulted in Matt Neal starting the race, which featured all drivers on the same medium tyres and with no ballast, on the front row.
Matt settled in to second place in the race until, just before half-distance, a rain shower swept across the circuit causing the race leader to slew into the hairpin allowing Neal through into first place and allowing Tom Ingram in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis to make it a three-way fight for the win.
Neal was under pressure all the way to the flag but held on for his second victory of the season and his 63rd BTCC career win.
It proved to be a great race for “Cobra” drivers: Andrew Jordan took fourth in his WSR BMW 125i M Sport while sixth place eventually fell to Colin Turkington.
That leaves the Drivers’ Championship closer than ever with Tom Ingram leading Colin Turkington by just six points with Matt Neal in third only ten points further back. Just to emphasise how close the race for Drivers Championship is, Andrew Jordan is currently sixth in the table but is only 32 points off top spot.
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