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Steve Neal criticises Brands Hatch safety

Team Dynamics’ Steve Neal has criticised the safety of the Brands Hatch circuit, after several drivers including Honda’s Matt Neal suffered crashes on the exit of Paddock Hill bend on Saturday.

During second free practice, Airwaves Racing’s Árón Smith suffered a big crash on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend heading up Hailwoods Hill, resulting in significant damage with his car ending up on its side. This was then followed by a significant shunt for Neal during qualifying, causing extensive damage to the front of his Civic.

“It’s a shit track really,” said Neal Snr to TouringCars.Net. “They’ve altered the track and made it dangerous. You saw Árón Smith have exactly the same accident, you saw a Clio have exactly the same accident and you saw Matt’s serious accident. It knocked him about big time. He’s damaged his back. Jonathan [Palmer] needs to address it big time.”

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Neal explained that changes to the run-off area on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend have been causing the accidents, with the consequences exacerbated by the position and angle of the barriers on the inside, which the drivers often find themselves pitched towards.

“What they’ve done is they’ve put a gravel trap on the outside of Paddock Hill Bend where there used to be a small kerb, and you weren’t allowed to run all four wheels over the kerb,” added Neal. “Where they would once run wide, now they can’t run wide. That Armco [on the inside] even before was in a dangerous position. Every race meeting here someone goes into it.

“The worst accident you can have is the one-oclock impact which is what both drivers had. The head will go forward or to the side, but it won’t go at one o’clock. It’s killed several racing drivers who have had those angles of impacts. You don’t need a high G, which you can probably stand. It’s the wrong angle and it snaps the neck.

“Fortunately they all have to wear the HANS device in BTCC and I think it should become compulsory in all forms of motorsport.”

Despite the accident, Neal Snr believes that the rainy conditions expected for all three of Sunday’s races should work in the team’s favour, adding that it will be easier for Neal to race with his hand injury in the wet.

“The rain should improve our chances – it makes the steering lighter so Matt shouldn’t have as much of a problem with his hand,” said Neal. “It does suit our cars, which generally have better grip. Our drivers are very experienced in the wet – last year here in the wet we were on the podium in all three races so I don’t see why we shouldn’t do it again.”

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