Matt Neal secured his third Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Drivers’ Championship title at the season finale at Silverstone, as he won the opening race from Pole Position and then finished second and eighth to secure the crown by eight points from his Honda Racing team-mate, Gordon Shedden.
Once the emotions had sunk in for Neal, he paid tribute to the team for all of their work which they had put in to his turbocharged two litre Honda Civic.
“What an incredible feeling,” says Neal. “It has been such a tough fight this season, not only with all the rivals on the grid but from my team-mate ‘Flash’ Gordon too. It has been nip-and-tuck all the way between all of us and for the title battle to come down to the final race was so tense.
“Winning it is a great reward for all the team and we have had the most consistent car across the season. The engine has been sweet and the chassis has been strong at every circuit we have gone to. I have to thank everyone at Honda (UK) for giving me such a great platform to perform with and that is what has given us this championship.”
Neal’s seventh win of the 2011 season provided him with the backbone to win the Championship for the first time since 2006, when he also secured the crown on the National Circuit at Silverstone.
“I never thought I would win this once, let alone three times,” adds Neal, who pays tribute to his team-mate Shedden as well. “We have the new Honda Civic coming out for next season and we are going to work hard on that, and Flash is improving every step of the way, so the package should be great next year too. We’ll both be pushing hard, but I think it would be great for him to get one. He deserves it.”
Shedden can’t wait for the 2012 season to come around having had a taste of the title showdown and wants more of it. He followed Neal home in the opening race before leading home his team-mate during the second race. It wasn’t quite enough for the Scottish driver, who would up eight points shy of Neal after finishing the final race of the season in tenth.
“Finishing first and second is a reward for the effort we have put in for the whole season,” says ‘Flash’. “We have worked so hard. I am getting closer to claiming the overall title and I am on Matt Neal’s heels now. When you see how happy everyone is in the whole team, its just mega; you can’t be disappointed though even though I didn’t take the crown.
“We have had a great car, Honda’s support has been monumental and we’ve taken a clean sweep of all the trophies on offer for success in the British Touring Car Championship this season. How can that be a bad year? All we have to do is go out there and repeat it in 2012…”