“I am confident we can bag three solid results and increase the margin at the top of the table,” assures Matt Neal in preview of this weekend BTCC races at Snetterton, Norfolk.
The Honda Racing Team driver begins the second half of the season protecting a nine point advantage at the head of the drivers' championship, but begins the Snetterton weekend saddled with 45kg of success ballast, which the 43-year-old is sure will affect his qualifying performance at the 1.95 mile track.
“It's going to be a tough weekend because Snetterton's layout always provides rough and tumble,” Neal concedes. “There are some very fast straights followed by tricky corners and it is hard to defend when you are in the lead. But the fast corners on the track play right into my hands because the Civic has a great balance through those kinds of sweepers.”
Neal currently leads the points standings from Chevrolet driver Jason Plato, however, both Neal and teammate Gordon Sheddon expect a different team – the LPG powered Team Aon Ford Focuses – to be the front runners at the high speed venue.
“Like Matt, I think the LPG cars will be untouchable at Snetterton and we have got to aim to grab our chances when they come,” says Sheddon, who ended the first half of the season with two wins at Croft. “We will be strong because of our good chassis but you can never tell. I will have to carry 27kgs in qualifying which could hold me back a bit so I will be concentrating on races two and three to score well.”
“The Honda has been quick at Snetterton in the past and there's no reason why it won't be again, because we have done lots of work on it over the last 12 months. I am looking forward to it because it has been nearly two months since the last round. This is like starting the championship all over again, and we are feeling confident.”