Matt Neal experienced a ‘rotten weekend’ in the British Touring Car Championship at Croft, after the Honda driver took just one points finish to fall behind in the title battle.
Prior to the opening race in North Yorkshire, Neal had shown strong pace in his Civic, qualifying in eighth just two tenths behind team-mate and championship leader Gordon Shedden.
However contact from the Subaru of Josh Price in the opening race, whilst Neal was running in sixth, broke the Civic’s left-rear suspension and caused Neal to retire, also dropping him to the back of the starting order for race two.
On the less favourable hard tyre for that race, Neal made up 11 places to finish in 18th, before putting in his best drive of the day in race three to finish in fifth and take home valuable points.
“It’s been a rotten weekend, really,” said Neal to TouringCars.Net. “OK qualifying was what it was – it was a bit of a lottery – but I felt good for qualifying and the car felt strong in the first race.
“But getting drilled on the second lap meant that was it, it was all over. Unfortunately, that depicts the rest of the weekend, starting behind 30-odd cars.”
Neal has dropped to 53 points behind team-mate Shedden in the standings, and has now been passed by the Subaru of Ash Sutton as well, with Neal emphasising the straight-line speed strength of the rival Subarus.
“You just have to look at the finish line speed traps, where it’s been Subaru 1-2-3-4 in every session,” added Neal. “That’s just grunt out of the hairpin.
“It’s not rear-wheel drive [advantage], because the BMWs aren’t there. Andy Jordan has been light, and [Rob] Collard was light in the second and third races, so that’s just pure grunt.”
Neal admits that he would have preferred to have fallen further down the championship rankings in order to carry less success ballast into the Snetterton meeting. As it is, Neal has slipped by just one place in the overall rankings, giving him 33 kg of ballast for the next event.
“I was hoping I was going to be further back down the order almost. It is what it is, you’ve just got to crack on as you never know which way it’s going to fall.
“I’m going to be in the middle of the road on the weight going to Snetterton and the car’s strong. We’ve got a big test at Snetterton before that, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Team Dynamics are set to work on building up a new chassis for Eurotech Racing over the summer break, after Jeff Smith’s car was destroyed in Saturday’s qualifying pile-up.
Neal added that it will be a tight schedule, as the spare car is only half complete after the previous spare was destroyed by Matt Simpson in pre-season testing in Spain.
“We’ll have to see if we can help Eurotech to get their programme back up to speed and see who they’re going to put in that.
“We’ve got a chassis half in build at the moment which we’re going to have to accelerate.”