Henry Neal started 2020 as he’d finished 2019, with a race win in the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy/TCR UK Championship, proving that even the Coronavirus Pandemic could not stop the Worcestershire racer. On a slowly drying Oulton Park circuit, the Honda Civic Type R was quickest to find his feet, scything past early race leader Lewis Kent by the halfway stage.
As the lights went out, Dan Kirby rocketed away, holding off the challenge from Lewis Kent into Old Hall. It would not be for long though, as a mistake unsighted by the cameras saw Kirby run off the track allowing Kent into the lead before Knickerbrook.
Behind them, Darelle Wilson had leapfrogged Henry Neal at the start, but the Team Dynamics racer was not one to hold back, using the NGTC’s superior traction to drive past the Vauxhall Astra TCR on the straight. Wilson would join the vanishing brigade a few laps later, having run off the road and into the barriers at Shell.
From there, it was all about hunting down Kent. Chopping almost a second a lap to the Essex and Kent Motorsport racer, Neal gradually caught the breakaway Kent sliding gracefully round prior to the halfway stage, setting the fastest lap of 1:55.926 around the International layout.
The second half of the race would see a change in attitude from Neal as he preserved his tyres, not wanting to drop off in the closing laps. Due to the slower VW Cup cars, Henry found himself held up temporarily, allowing Kent to keep him honest. However, it wasn’t enough for the 20-year-old to do anything about the Honda Civic Type R.
The win elevated Neal to the top of the standings with Kent and rookie driver Max Hart completing the podium.
Hart, who crashed his Cupra in qualifying was looking to hit back immediately, holding off the recovering Kirby in the second half. The PMR/Trade Price Cars entry had dropped back after his disastrous first lap yet continued to harry the #101 Maximum Motorsport entry. Hart though remained patient and after Kirby had destroyed his tyres, he cruised home for silverware in his maiden race.
Rounding out the finishers would be Tim Docker who continued to improve his pace as the race went on. By the chequered flag he was the third fastest driver on circuit and could be a factor later in race two.
The second TCT/TCR UK race takes place at 17:05 UK Time.