Following a fighting Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting for Honda at Rockingham, Matt Neal says that one slip-up from their BMW rivals would swing the title fight.
The triple BTCC champion trimmed Sam Tordoff‘s championship lead to just five points after a battling visit to the Corby circuit, bagging results of eighth, sixth and fourth in Sunday’s three races.
Neal therefore carried on his trait of finishing consistently in 2016, the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver having finished 19 of the 24 races inside the top 10 this season.
“The first two were hard work, proper hard work”, Neal told The Checkered Flag afterwards. “We then salvaged a good result in the last race with the harder tyre, so somehow we closed up in the points.
“I was just trying to stay out of trouble, keep my nose clean and keep my head down to see where we ended up. The harder tyre worked really well all things considering.”
Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden collected a sixth win of the season for the Dynamics squad in the opening Rockingham encounter, while Neal admitted that safety car interruptions in the final race hindered both drivers.
“I thought, [Gordon] could go and have a fair crack at him. It was a shame with the last few safety cars, because it brought Turkington right back into the mix. I’d managed to gap Jackson for a bit, then they pulled the safety car out and it brought Turkington right back into the mix.”
Moving on to Silverstone on 17/18 September, Neal expects his West Surrey Racing rivals to provide stiff competition again, although he insists that the title fight could be altered at any stage during the remaining six races.
“I think their engine works better at the top end”, added Neal on his BMW rivals, “so Silverstone should suit them and probably won’t suit us.
“There’s not enough corners for us, so we’ll be steady away, but we’re breathing down their neck. We only need them to crack a little bit and we’ll be on them. You never know.”