Matt Neal felt that more than just his 60th Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory was on the cards after a mixed weekend of fortunes at Thruxton.
The triple BTCC champion secured his first pole position in qualifying for five seasons on Saturday afternoon, before matching Andy Rouse‘s tally of 60 wins with a lights-to-flag performance in Sunday’s opening race.
Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden tailed Neal all the way to secure a one-two for the Dynamics outfit, the latter delighted to bounce back with his first win of the 2017 season at the team’s local circuit.
“After the disappointment of Donington, we needed to bounce back and I’m really going to cherish this 60th win”, said Neal afterwards.
“The Civic Type-R has always been amazing at Thruxton – we work hard on the aero, and this circuit is primarily high-speed corners. ‘Flash’ certainly made me work for pole, and to come away with a Halfords Yuasa Racing one-two and a Honda podium lockout on home soil in the first race was a dream – a fabulous result.”
The weekend filtered out in a less desirable manner for Neal. Fending off his team-mate from the start of the restarted second race, the Honda Civic Type-R was forced to pit from the lead with power steering issues.
Starting 29th on the grid, Neal fought to 10th place in a battling third race of the day, but was later handed a time penalty to bump him behind Tom Chilton after cutting the final chicane to pass the Vauxhall Astra driver on the last lap.
A double victory felt possible, Neal adding “I felt a bit wounded after race two, because that was another win in the bag – ‘Flash’ and I could really have made hay out there – but the car was magnificent in race three.
“The team said to me, ‘why don’t you drop back and see if you can go for fastest lap’, but I thought ‘stuff that’ and had a lot of fun. I just wanted to keep going at the end”
Photo: BTCC Media