Matt Neal survived a testing third Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting from Thruxton to leave with a share of the championship lead.
The Halfords Yuasa Racing‘s man’s weekend was not without strife along the way at the tyre-testing Hampshire circuit, although it started strongly following a fine top-three qualifying effort with 75kg success ballast on board his Honda Civic Type-R.
Neal was one of several drivers to suffer from a puncture in race one on Sunday, leading to a multi-car pile-up that also involved Honda team-mate, Gordon Shedden. A fightback from the triple champion to 11th and then second in the remaining two races returned him to the top of the standings, now shared with West Surrey Racing‘s Rob Collard.
Reflecting with The Checkered Flag on a weekend that seemingly could have been, Neal reflected: “It is what it is. It was certainly good to finish on a high.
“What I rue is, through no fault of our own because we were the guinea pig with the 75kg, a weekend that could have been mega has turned out to be a pretty average one at what is supposed to be our good, strong circuit.”
The unfortunate incident that saw no fewer than five cars involved in race one stemmed from a puncture for Neal in the closing laps, contact with Josh Cook‘s MG starting the chain reaction that followed.
Neal commented on the race: “After qualifying and then halfway through race one, literally I was stroking it. I wasn’t touching any of the kerbs, wasn’t sliding the car and I thought “this is great. Third place with 75kg – happy days”.
“I thought it was easy, but it was frustrating because it is what it is, through no fault of our own or from Dunlop. Then, getting involved in all the mess and walking wounded after that. I was pretty frustrated but when I looked back at the video and stuff, I saw [Josh] was slightly unsighted.
“It’s a shame what happened to Flash (Shedden) in race three because we needed a strong team result.”
The weekend was a case of damage limitation, one that Neal recovered from in fine fashion to grab a close second in the final encounter of the day to reclaim a joint championship lead heading to Oulton Park next month.
On the rebuild efforts of the Dynamics squad, Neal praised: “A proper team effort. I thought we’d get Flash out, but I didn’t know if we’d get mine out because it was in a millions pieces.
“I was trying to be super careful because we were running a crash structure, as we only had one spare. Both cars lost them in race one, so I had to run without it in races two and three. I was a bit nervous then when I got into traffic.”
Championship Standings After Round 3/10:
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