Matt Neal says that he needs to put together a ‘complete weekend’ at Oulton Park to get himself in the hunt for the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title.
The triple BTCC champion topped the second free practice session of the day at the Cheshire circuit, surviving several lurid moments in a sodden outing after an afternoon downpour.
Neal’s Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden had a moment himself when he left the road at Druids, something almost repeated by Neal himself in conditions he said proved very unpredictable.
“Its very tricky conditions out there”, Neal told The Checkered Flag after second practice. “Where [Shedden] had his big moment – I had a few stabs at doing it myself.
“I’d run on at the hairpin and kept having moments almost everywhere. I certainly had some bites at it. I’ve been given the weekend ‘rainmeister’ accolade for the weekend with that, but it is what is.”
Neal admitted that Honda would prefer a drier Sunday afternoon, but that wet conditions in qualifying would make the session very hard to call.
“Historically, we haven’t gone well in the wet. It’s such a small window to make it work, but I think we just dropped in at the right moment. It’s keeping the performance there that’s the tricky bit.”
Team-mate Shedden suffered steering wheel problems in first practice, but later said “there’s not a lot of margin for error. It’s changeable and sometimes it’s wetter than you think on the next lap.”
Neal claimed his first pole position and win of the season at Thruxton, but said that he can not afford a repeat of that particular afternoon when he lost vital points to a mechanical problem.
“I need to get a complete weekend together”, said Neal, who sits seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. “I haven’t quite managed that so far this year.
“I need points. I need to be at the front and start scoring again. I need to target that point in qualifying and then target good results whatever the weather.”
Photo: BTCC Media