Maiden Victory for Neal at Brands Hatchadmin
Henry Neal secured a well-deserved and overdue overall Dunlop Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK Series victory, taking the flag for Team Dynamics in his Honda Civic Type R. Neal had lost a place off the start, but worked his way back into second, passing James Turkington for the win. Turkington, driving for Ciceley Motorsport finished second as the highest placed TCR UK runner.
Turkington was the man to watch off the line, blasting up to second by the end of the first lap from fourth on the grid. He was quickly on the back of Nick Halstead and on the third lap got the run on the Honda Civic, squeezing himself up the inside of Druids and pushing Halstead wide, taking the lead.
This proved to be vital timing as Neal closed down the leading two. The Team Dynamics driver followed through on the next lap, soon chasing Turkington. In a typical Touring Car battle Neal battled Turkington, braking later into Paddock Hill and sliding into position before the hairpin. Neal would go on to set the fastest lap, a 49.742 winning by 4.562 seconds. Turkington would take the TCR UK win and as a result, the points lead.
Rounding out the podium was Nick Halstead. After claiming pole, the Orange Motorsport Honda Civic TCR lost places to Turkington then Neal, before holding off a three car challenge in the latter stages.
Lewis Kent was determined to regain ground after a dire start that had seen the points leader fall to the back on the opening lap. After staying out of trouble with Darelle Wilson and Alex Day, Kent made progress on the leaders, briefly holding the fastest lap.
Halstead did not have the speed of qualifying and within ten minutes was under pressure from Stewart Lines and the on-form Kent. Not waiting for the Cupra TCR to make a move, Kent outbraked Lines into Paddock Hill, on the twelfth lap.
Getting past Halstead proved to be far trickier though, the polesitter appeared to open the door, leaving room on the inside of the corner, Kent though could not get the run out of the turn, needing to watch his mirrors for Lines as well. His tyres would fall off in the final three laps, as Lines took fourth with Alex Day beating Kent to the line after getting better drive out of Clearways.
Rounding out the order was Darelle Wilson. The Opel Astra was forced to pit during the race, after a tight battle with Day in the early stages, completing the running two laps down.
Speaking about his maiden TCT win, Henry Neal said;
“It’s been a long time coming, nice to get the monkey off my back for TCT. Credit to all the Dynamics boys and all the hard work they’ve done and the car they’ve built. I did flub the start, but managed to claw my way back, get past Nick [Halstead] and luckily Nick and James [Turkington] were having a battle which allowed me to get on the back of them.
On the podium, Henry’s father Matt Neal presented him the Trophy. Speaking about the momentous occasion, Henry said;
“It’s pretty special. I never thought the day would come when he was handing me the Trophy. I’m absolutely stoked. It’s nice to have all the family here and to do it in Dad’s old car is even more special.”
TCR UK winner James Turkington said; “It’s a perfect result from our perspective. We got a good start and got Stewart and Henry into the first corner, going after Nick for the overall lead. Ultimately I need to focus on TCR, so I knew I wouldn’t have the long-term pace to hold on to Neal so we didn’t hold each up.”