After a second win of the season at Oulton Park, Matt Neal expects the next Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship visit to Croft to be closer than expected at a circuit traditionally suited to rear-wheel drive cars.
Qualifying eighth on Saturday at the Cheshire circuit, the Halfords Yuasa Racing man ended just a point adrift of Sam Tordoff after victory in race three backed up finishes of ninth and seventh, albeit a one-two finish for the Dynamics outfit was taken from them by a puncture late on for team-mate, Gordon Shedden.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag after his second win of the season and 58th of his career, Neal said: “After the first two I needed a bit of a calmer one!
“Even then it wasn’t calm for a while because Flash (Shedden) was pushing hard. The pace was pretty hot, so I was just trying to get my softs in gently. Whether he was pushing me or not, it’s a shame because it would have been great to have another one-two.”
Despite hauling 75kg of success ballast into both qualifying and race one, the triple BTCC champion was relieved to evade incident on Sunday and come away just a point adrift of the top spot.
“It’s pretty fraught racing back there”, Neal admitted after spending the opening two races of the day in the thick of the action. “It’s so close so, if you qualify down there, you end up racing down there. Ballast hurts you.”
The next meeting at Croft circuit on 18/19 June is one that Neal expects to see BMW be strong at once again in 2016, 12 months after the WSR squad clinched wins in all three encounters in North Yorkshire.
“It will be interesting to see what happens going to Croft next”, commented Neal, who says that the addition of a new harder compound Dunlop tyre may take time to adjust to in practice.
“That’s always been a BMW or rear-wheel drive circuit, so we’ll see how Sam [Tordoff] gets on with the weight. If he goes well there, then we’ve got a proper fight on our hands.
“There’s another curveball there as we’ve got the hard tyre instead of the soft at Croft. That will be one for everyone to get their heads around because we’re not chucking on extra grip – we’re chucking on less.”