Matt Neal kept himself in title contention with a solid weekend at Silverstone in the penultimate round of the 2013 British Touring Car Championship, fighting through the pain barrier of his injured finger to lie as Andrew Jordan‘s closest title challenger.
Neal fought his way up through the pack from ninth on the grid to a podium finish in race one with some opportunistic overaking moves at Becketts, repeating his third place in the final race of the day to cap off a solid weekend for the Honda Yuasa Racing squad.
“It’s been a good weekend, but I’m glad it’s over, and it’s a nice way to end it for the team”, Neal told thecheckeredflag.co.uk afterwards.
“I actually thought that we would be lucky to get a Honda into the top six. So I’m surprised that, given the speed differential of the different cars, that we’ve manage to get the results that we have – that’s me, Flash (Shedden) and Andy [Jordan].
His team-mate Gordon Shedden meanwhile recovered a mediocre start to the weekend after qualifying down in 15th at a circuit not expected to be so strong for Honda, out-witting Colin Turkington the following day in race three to claim his fourth win of the season.
“It was a big surprise”, said the Scot. “It’s been a great day for the team. The car just came alive in that last race on the softer tyres.”
Neal now jumps back up to second in the championship with his brace of podiums and, despite lying 34 points adrift of Jordan heading into the finale, feels confident that Honda will be a real force at Brands Hatch on October 12/13.
“Yeah I think we’ll be strong. I think the Hondas will be on fire. We might even get a bit of boost back too.”
Neal’s weekend had been made that extra slice more difficult at Silverstone by a broken middle finger on his right hand sustained prior to the Northampton meeting. The triple champion will have an operation on Tuesday, and hopes it will not trouble him for the final round in two weekend’s time.
“My hand is wrecked so I’m glad that it’s over in that respect”, he added.
“Obviously now I’ll have a bit of weight on, but it all depends on how my finger goes because I’ve got an operation on Tuesday. The consultant has said it could be up to three to nine months, so we’ll see.”