Pride for Andy Neate as Cruze turns first wheel in anger

Andy Neate says he is “over the moon” to finally take his BTCC bow as an owner-driver, after hitting the track in anger for the first time in his new IP Tech Chevrolet Cruze.

The Northamptonshire-based team’s debut has been delayed a number of times already this season, but following a shakedown at Turweston and a test at Snetterton and Mallory Park, the NGTC Cruze is ready for its first race.

Neate set the 20th fastest time in the opening free practice session, completing 12 laps.

Speaking to TouringCarTimes, Neate said: “It is fantastic. It was a long road to get the car out, and a lot of hard work.

“It is nice to drive it today. It is the first time I have really driven it properly – we have had a couple of test days, but they have been more to fix the niggles.

“It feels good out of the box. We just have to look after the reliability, and get me back into it, as I’ve not driven anything in anger for a long time now.”

On his aims for the weekend, Neate was very straightforward. He said: “Three finishes. I’m not going to make any bold claims about points.”

Looking ahead, Neate said the start of life as a team owner and driver is the realisation of a dream.

He said: “When you start racing as a kid, you want to do the usual stuff, like getting to become a factory works driver. I achieved that, but to actually be a team owner in British Touring Cars is immense.

“When I was kid I couldn’t even dream of those kind of things. To be here today with my own car and own team, I am over the moon.”