Honda Racing Team driver Matt Neal heads into the seven week summer break with the lead of the British Touring Car Championship, but only just. Neal leads by one point over Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden.
Neal won the first race of the day at Croft, with Gordon Shedden going on to win race two with Neal in second place. The win each for the two Honda drivers today means Neal has won four of the first 15 races of the season, and Shedden six, and Neal now leads the championship with 221 points.
“It’s nice bragging rights for the next seven weeks, but then there’s only one point in it and plenty to play for yet,” said Neal to TouringCarTimes.
“In race two I could have put up a fight (with Shedden), but I was a little bit walking wounded. I had a brake issue then I had a turbo issue which finally went three corners from home, so I was very lucky there. Gordon’s my biggest ally and he’s also my biggest adversary, so every point counts.”
Starting in ninth place for race three, Neal moved up to fourth place finishing just behind the independent Eurotech Racing Honda of Andrew Jordan, after an up-and-down battle which saw the Honda pick-up a few battle scars along the way.
“I thought we could maybe have had second, but with fourth after the first two races I’m happy with that.”
Looking at the championship, and whether the team’s performance in recent races has increased their confidence over Honda’s championship expectation, the three-time champion is still cautious.
“It’s early days yet, we’re only half way,” said Neal. “We’ve had a nice few wins, but we’ve also had two very technical circuits. Snetterton’s technical, but it’s also got a lot of straights which could really hurt us.”
BTCC Drivers’ Championship Standings after Croft