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Title race tightens up for Neal
1:00pm Monday 26th August 2013 in Sport
MATT Neal saw his lead at the top of the British Touring Car Championship standings sliced to just six points after a weekend of fluctuating results at Knockhill.
Andrew Jordan is breathing down the neck of the three-time champion from Droitwich after he beat him into second place in convincing fashion to win the third round in Scotland.
Colin Turkington also fired himself further into championship contention after taking two stunning wins before a technical infringement in race three saw the Ulsterman disqualified from a vital fourth place.
The 31-year-old won the opener after making his way by the Audi of pole-sitter Rob Austin in the early running.
The eBay Motors racer subsequently streaked away from the chasing pack to claim his first ever BTCC victory at the Scottish circuit and he duly doubled up in race two.
Turkington’s second win was far more routine as he cruised to an impressive lights-to-flag victory ahead of Austin and local hero Gordon Shedden, who both reversed their positions from the first race.
Scotsman Shedden, Neal’s team-mate at Honda Yuasa, seemed set to build on his big points haul in race three but he faced unfortunate late heartache.
While running in fifth place the reigning champion’s Honda Civic caught fire due to an engine failure, much to the dismay of the tens of thousands of home fans.
He wasn’t the only championship contender to endure disappointment, however, as Turkington was excluded from fourth place when his car was found to have exceeded the maximum boost allowance.
Neal also experienced frustration in Scotland, with a fifth place in the second race and runners-up in the third and final event, although over three minutes behind his main title rival Jordan.
“I think that every point you get is vital whether it’s a fifth place, a seventh or the podium that we picked up in race three,” said the vastly experienced Neal.
“You’ve just got to grab what you can because the competition is pretty tough and it’s not easy out there.
“I’d had a pretty tough weekend so it was a relief to see the podium again - this championship could come down to the odd point.
“I said before this weekend that Turkington could be the one to watch and we’d all be foolish to discount Jason Plato too, but it’s great to have three Civics in the top three of the championship.”
Neal will be hoping to re-take the initiative at Rockingham on September 15.
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