Matt Neal currently leads the British Touring Car Championship by eight points and will be looking to build on his championship advantage this weekend at Croft.
Currently chasing his third championship Neal’s main rival looks to be arch-rival Jason Plato in his Chevrolet Cruze.
Talking to BTCC.net Neal said: “We had identical weight at Oulton Park and Jason qualified third where as I was back in seventh. His speed has concerned me from the word go and I still think he's the benchmark. I think Jason has got more speed than we have and it's just the luck that hasn't gone his way so far. He's had a few rough runs.”
A surprise title challenger this year is that of Tom Onslow-Cole in the LPG powered Ford Focus. The straight-line speed of this has come under much discussion after Onslow-Cole took another race win at Oulton despite power restrictions going in to the weekend. Neal gave little away on this subject when TCF quizzed him, simply answering “Not for me to comment really, they are very quick though.”
After a good run at Oulton Park Neal carries maximum success ballast and is acknowledges that this weekend is not going to be easy. “I am carrying full weight, so under no illusion of how tough it’s gonna be.”
As for the Croft circuit itself Neal comments: “Sure I like the joint, enjoy driving there and is fab for spectators on the grass banks if the weather is nice.”
When the chequered flag drops on Sunday for race three it will mark the start of a 6 week break from racing, so what will the two times BTCC champion be up to in this time? “6 week break? What 6 week break?” says Neal. “I’ll stay working, I’m at Goodwood with Honda, then British GP the week after and then a charity event week after that.”
Despite the hard work he is still hoping to get some rest “I might have a couple of weekends at home before Snetterton.” he admits.
When speaking to Shaun Hollamby recently we asked him to describe the British Touring Car Championship in three words, we asked Neal the same question and he came back with the exact same answer: “Crash Bang Wallop!”.
Photo credit: SJK Photography