Championship leader Matt Neal admits that Honda may have a tough task on their hands to beat MG at Snetterton this weekend, but aims to keep them honest all the way on Sunday.
Neal enters the Norfolk round 19 points ahead of Andrew Jordan in the championship, the Honda Yuasa Racing team having recently involved themselves in a positive test session at Snetterton in a separate shakedown to the official Dunlop test which they were absent from on July 9-10.
Those sessions were topped by their MG KX Momentum Racing rivals, Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff, a duo of which Neal has set his targets on battling with this weekend, Plato lying 36 points adrift of Neal heading into the event.
“The test went pretty well”, said Neal. “It was blindingly hot, but we did long runs and short runs, and tried a few things.”
Although holding the championship lead appears bright for Neal, the consequence of this means that he will carry the maximum 45kg of penalty ballast into qualifying and race one of the weekend, something which the points leader feels will be an unwanted burden on the team in their fight with the many possible rivals lying in their way.
“Carrying the weight around Snetterton, with the boost situation, will make it an uphill struggle. I expect the MGs to be quick and [Shedden] should be on their tail with only 18kg of ballast.
“Everyone could be up there – the BMWs form over the last couple of rounds means it should be pretty monstrous.”
The Snetterton circit is one that Neal has only tasted success at twice in his illustrious BTCC career. However, the triple champion is a fan of the circuit and particularly the new 300 layout first introduced in 2011, saying that the track punishes drivers that make a mistake.
“Since the changes I think it’s been mega”, added Neal. “It needs commitment. It’s also a good track for overtaking. There are three corners – Palmer, Williams and Coram – you never feel you’ve got it right and that promotes mistakes. We can’t overtake people with the boost so we need them to make errors, and the 300 circuit is more challenging.”
(Action this weekend gets underway at 9:20 on Saturday with qualifying taking place at 15:20, while racing starts at 12:02 on Sunday. You can follow all the action and news as it happens here with thecheckeredflag, and on Twitter via tcfBTCC.)