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BTCCS NEAL RELISHES SNETTERTON'S "PROPER CHALLENGE - BRING IT ON!" - 27 Jul 2016

Wednesday, July 27 2016

Triple Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal is ready to resume the title battle at Snetterton this weekend (30/31 July).

It's 25 years since Neal made his BTCC debut, and the 49-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down, holding third place in the title standings at the season's halfway point. He could even have been higher up, had the last event worked in the Honda team's favour. "We had a bit of a rough Croft," Matt said. "But it's just so competitive at the moment, that's one of the problems!"

The last two events at Oulton Park and Croft favoured the rear-wheel-drive cars, and has left Matt mindful of the increased opposition to the once-dominant Civic Type Rs this season. "The Subarus and BMWs look at the top of their game," he said. "We're going to some circuits which will suit them coming up, but it's all part of the game, isn't it? So we're not rolling over yet, we're still ready to take the fight to them."

To achieve this, Honda has been working hard over the summer break to refine the Civic Type R, and Matt's clear on where the focus lies. "We've got to find some more speed," he said. "Definitely with straight line speed we've been a bit lacking at the moment, and that's what we've been concentrating on as well as general robustness, reliability of the car as we go into the business end of the season.

"Snetterton has always been a power circuit and the new layout is no different, but saying that, every circuit we say now is a power circuit. The problem is, the championship is so close that we're looking for fractions. If we're shy in any one area then it shows up massively, you'll not just be out of the top five or ten, but out of the top 20."

The omens look good for an exciting second half to the BTCC season, then, even if this makes life a little tougher for Matt. One consolation is that it starts at a venue that is one of his favourites. "Snetterton is a circuit I really enjoy and a proper challenge - I'm very much looking forward to it," he said. "It's always good to go racing again after a long break, especially when you're in the thick of such an absorbing title fight - so bring it on!"