Neal claims 2011 title as Chilton wins
16 October 2011 – Matt Neal has been crowned BTCC for the third time after beating Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden in Sunday’s third and final race at Silverstone. At the front, Tom Chilton picked up Team Aon’s second victory of the season, leading home outgoing Champion Jason Plato and Special Tuning’s Tom Boardman.
Although five drivers stood a mathematical chance of the title heading into the season finale, the shootout was realistically between the Honda pairing and Plato, who was put out of the running after a second Dynamics one-two result in Race 2.
Chilton led home Plato by 1.4 seconds, with Boardman just holding off the second Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall – who had started from pole but bogged down – for the final podium slot.
There was a strong end to the season for both Andrew Jordan and Rob Austin, who was the highest-placed NGTC runner ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole. Frank Wrathall scored two more points for ninth and was sandwiched by the Honda duo after a top nine grid reverse.
James Thompson’s miserable BTCC return with Motorbase continued, although the Yorkshireman – title winner of 2002 and 2004 – did manage to dip under the one minute barrier to set fastest lap. There was also trouble for Independent Champion James Nash, who was ordered to serve a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits more than three times at Copse Corner.
After a clash with Wrathall, the WSR BMW of Rob Collard – which has failed to claim a race win once again this year – suffered a lurid spin on the start/finish straight.
“I’m overwhelmed – I never thought I’d win it once in my life and now it’s three times,” said Champion Neal. “It means the world to me. If it had gone Gordon’s way I’d have been disappointed for me but over the moon for him.
"I have to say, he is the ultimate team-mate and so hard – he’s only been in this game for six years and he is one of the absolute best out there on the track – and that’s why this has been the toughest of my three titles to win.”
The 2012 BTCC season begins at Brands Hatch on 1 April