Matt Neal was left ruing the “chaos” of the final British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton last weekend during the third round of the season, a controversial clash with Rob Collard denting his visit to the Hampshire venue.
The triple BTCC champion started the weekend strongly by following Andrew Jordan‘s Pirtek Racing Honda Civic home in race one on Sunday to second place, following that result up with a fourth place as team-mate Gordon Shedden claimed the honours in the second encounter of the day.
Race three was then littered with carnage, Neal coming to blows with Collard at the Complex late in proceedings that left the WSR driver finishing 10th, Neal falling to 23rd.
“When my car felt really good was race three, and that’s when all the chaos ensued, and I seemed to end up on the wrong end of the stick to be honest”, Neal commented to The Checkered Flag after Sunday’s action.
“It is a good day for Honda, which is nice because it’s the closest track we have to Swindon. It was not so bad of a day for me until race three, and then everywhere I turned seemed to be the wrong way and for chaos to ensue.”
Collard and Neal both had their differing opinions of the situation, Collard’s frustration emerging from his dice with the pair of works Civic Tourers of Neal and Shedden, the latter tipping Collard into a hefty sideways moment after contact into the final chicane.
Collard and Neal then tangled coming into the Complex on the penultimate lap of the race as the BMW and sideways Honda bounced through the grass, Neal forced to pit where he dropped to 23rd position.
The drama took to the pit lane after the race where Matt’s father Steve Neal came close to confrontation with their WSR rival, while Matt himself was left to take the positives away from a solid weekend for Honda.
Neal added: “[Rob Collard] had a bit of a skirmish with Flash, but he was just a mobile chaos machine. I don’t know whether it was retaliation for what happened with Flash at the chicane, but he just torpedoed me. I looked sideways as he got me at 90 degrees to his car, and he had his foot hard in and was pushing me along the circuit.
“I’m not going to fall out with Rob long-term, because I’m too old and too big.
“The positives to take away from it are that we’re only three rounds into the championship and I’m going to be lighter heading to Oulton. It’s a long way to go yet.”
The final race dramas mean Neal now lies 31 points behind series leader Jordan in fourth place heading to Oulton Park on 7/8 June, Collard lying sixth after receiving a verbal warning for his part in the incident.