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Matt Neal: "Oulton’s high speed corners suit the Honda"

Thursday, June 06 2013

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship points leader Matt Neal will be trying his best to keep the rest of the field behind him at Oulton Park this weekend (8/9 June) as he aims for a record-equalling fourth title.

The 46-year-old BTCC veteran won his first class title in the series 20 years ago and that experience helped him remain ahead of team mate Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan in the Hondas. There's another element, as he explains: "A little bit of luck and that always helps but I'm under no illusions, we've just got to try and stay out of trouble and try and keep the luck on our side but that can soon swing the other way, so I'm realistic."

It's a pragmatic attitude that owes much to maturity, for the triple champion has often shown his fiery side in the past. He's even philosophical about the weight penalty that the title leader is obliged to carry. "Points in the bag, there's no substitute for it," is his conclusion. "I've always said I'd rather carry the weight than not because it means you're doing well in the championship. It could go either way - one the boost is not working for us at the moment, people have been given more, but the nature of Oulton is that it's a handling circuit that suits the Honda. The stops and starts won't help us with the boost but the high speed corners are where the Civic will come into its own, so that will swing our way, so it's six of one, half a dozen of the other really."

The wily campaigner is keeping tabs on his rivals too. Aside from team mate Gordon and nemesis Jason Plato at MG, he's impressed by the younger guys too: "We always expect Andrew Jordan to be quick, but consistently quick is where he's been really good this year, and carrying the weight, so you have to take your hat off to what he and the Pirtek guys are doing. He's just had a bit of bad luck otherwise he'd be leading the championship now.

"Sam Tordoff proved how good he is in Porsches, so I'm under no illusions, MG have got a strong line-up this year. Sam is getting results, it won't be long before he gets a win, and they'll both be coming back at us at Oulton, I'm sure about that. They're going to be a challenge all year long, and they'll be in the mix at the end."

Ask him if he expects to lead the championship on Sunday evening and he's typically cautious: "It'll be tough if I do, who knows? I try not to think about it - I've just got to go out there, try to stay out of trouble, and try to score as many points as I can."

Tickets for Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park on 8/9 June are available from £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.