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Neal happy to play the team game at Oulton Park

Wednesday, May 30 2012

Ahead of this June's (9/10) round at Oulton Park, reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal is aware of the threat to his status from his rivals, both in and out of the Honda outfit. He is happy to play the team game but fears that the Cheshire circuit will favour old adversary Jason Plato.

"I'm confident with progress in respect of the car," he said. "Where it is at, we're getting somewhere with the new regulations but we're suffering with the boost levels. At Thruxton it was flat but at Oulton, with the slow corners, straights and hills we could get taken apart, so it'll be a tough week. Gordon and I will be evenly matched but Jason with the boost increase is going to smoke all of us. Andy Neate has had problems so far this year, so he should be up there too - he's been there before in the Ford."

However, Matt had similar fears in 2011, yet the Hondas breezed qualifying, with Shedden getting the better of his team mate. The Scotsman has had more success with the new Civic than the triple champion, just as he did with the previous generation car in 2007. Is it all in the setup or does Shedden's driving style suit a new car better?

"It's six of one and half a dozen of the other," Matt opined. "We've tried different things on the cars, we're still learning so much. However his style suits the new tyre - he's aggressive with his inputs and you can do that with the new Dunlop tyres."

Last year Matt famously clashed with his team-mate on the last lap of race two, taking both out of the lead. The champion's display of remorse was matched by Shedden's lack of malice, however with a record-equalling fourth title within his reach; will Matt be able to control his desire this year?

"I want to enjoy racing and win as many races as I can and if championships come it's a bonus," he proffered. "The fire still burns inside me but I'm happy to play the team game. I've said before that I really felt for Gordon last year but one of us had to win it and the other not, so if it's his turn this year then that will be brilliant."

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park are available in advance from £25, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.