MATT Neal stole the show at Silverstone to roar to victory from 12th on the grid in Sunday's British Touring Car Championship.

Three-time title winner Neal snaffled his 61st career victory in his Civic Type R, picking off his rivals one by one in the final race.

By lap 16 he was up into second and after shadowing Rob Huff for five laps, his sustained pressure paid off as the race leader ran slightly wide on the exit of Copse with Neal seizing his chance to pounce for a second victory of 2017.

“All’s well that ends well," said Neal, of Pershore-based Halfords Yuasa Racing. "We laid the groundwork for the weekend in qualifying but the first two races didn’t exactly go to plan.

"Our car is really strong through the quick stuff so I knew where I had to attack Huffy but after trying it two or three times, he seemed to have it covered.

"Then he ran about half a metre wide and I got my nose up the inside. The title may be gone for me but it’s always satisfying to get a win, especially after such a tough weekend."

There was less joy for defending champion Gordon Shedden who found himself unceremoniously removed from contention by Rob Austin while in the mix for a podium finish.

“That clearly wasn’t the weekend we wanted," said Shedden.

"We knew Silverstone wouldn’t be our ideal circuit and we struggled with the weight in qualifying. When it’s that close it really hurts you – just a couple of tenths would have put us on the second row of the grid.

"Race one was a similar story which made it tough to progress but once the ballast was taken out for race two, the Civic Type R came to life.

"It’s always difficult to gain much ground when the margins are so tight but we were on the move and I think if we’d had another lap or two, we could have finished even higher.

"Although I’m mathematically in the title fight, realistically it’s not going to happen this year – but that won’t stop me from pushing flat-out at Brands Hatch."

Evesham-based Austin was left to rue what might have been despite battling for a pair of top-five finishes after running ninth in the opener on hard compound tyres.

“Race three was mine, in my head the win was there,” said Austin.

“We’d taken the pain of the hard tyres in race one, race two was okay and the only threat I saw for race three was [Colin] Turkington jumping me but I made an awesome start.

“I’m probably feeling more negative than I should be, so I apologise but I know we had a great chance. When the win is there for the taking and you have that opportunity, you want it and nothing less."


DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP: 1 Ashley Sutton 338, 2 Colin Turkington 328, 3 Gordon Shedden 272, 4 Tom Ingram 271, 5 Rob Collard 256, 6 Jack Goff 215, 7 Matt Neal 214.

MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP: 1 BMW 724, 2 Subaru 678, 3 Honda 638, 4 Vauxhall 515, 5 MG 326.

TEAM STANDINGS: 1 Team BMW 573, 2 Halfords Yuasa Racing 480, 3 Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 479, 4 Speedworks Motorsport 267, 5 Eurotech Racing 252, 6 BMW Pirtek Racing 197.