MATT Neal continued to prove the title credentials of the new Honda Civic Type R (FK8) with his third British Touring Car Championship podium in five races.

Beginning with 33kg of success ballast, the driver for Droitwich team Halfords Yuasa Racing qualified fifth for the first of three races around the challenging Oulton Park circuit.

Holding firm from the lights, Neal remained in the same position to collect valuable points for himself and Honda.

With the opportunity to strike in race two from the same grid slot, Neal scythed into third by lap five and pounced on Tom Chilton to secure second for the team’s fourth podium of the 2018 season.

Starting the reverse grid race three from sixth, Neal rallied hard but an off in the heat of battle forced him back to 14th.

He is sixth in the drivers’ championship battle and only 26 points adrift of top spot.

Team-mate Dan Cammish qualified 13th before finishing 14th and 12th but a puncture early in race three scuppered his hopes.

Tenth-placed Cammish tops the Jack Sears Trophy standings.

Honda remain in the hunt for the manufacturers’ championship while Halfords stay second in the teams’ standing heading to Croft on June 23 and 24.

Team BMW’s Colin Turkington took a commanding race two victory, moving to the standings summit in the process.

The Northern Irishman was also part of a 1-2-3 finish for the German manufacturer in the final race as Rob Collard headed home stablemates Andrew Jordan and Turkington.

Matt Simpson converted his first BTCC pole position into a dominant lights-to-flag victory in the opener.

Neal said: “It was not a bad weekend for us. We weren’t too sure how we were going to go.

"It was promising with the car and I was just unlucky in the last race otherwise we could have had three fairly solid top-six finishes.

"We would have been right up there in the championship. It means we’re going to be a bit lighter going into Croft and given how close it is this year everything can change in a meeting as Colin has shown.”

Cammish said: “It was always going to be tough coming here ­— the first time at a track where I’ve not had chance to test.

"I did the best job I thought I could in qualifying and it’s highlighted a few little issues in myself and my mentality in the way I’m approaching it.

"I need to follow Matt’s lead a little more really and accept it’s too early on for me in the BTCC and in front-wheel drive to expect to have much of an input in terms of set-up.

"He has a habit of getting the car where it needs to be for qualifying and pips me at the post whereas my car tends to be the same from start to finish.

"We’ll work on that and I’ll improve.”