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Matt Neal confident of Honda fightback

Matt Neal backed his Honda team to return to form at Knockhill after a frustrating British Touring Car Championship outing at Snetterton.

In what was a tough weekend for the manufacturer, Neal’s sixth place in race one was the best either driver could manage, while team-mate Gordon Shedden – who had led the championship heading to the Norfolk circuit – scored just two points across Sunday’s three races.

The pair also recorded a double retirement in race two – where Neal and Shedden made contact – but despite the frustration of a disappointing weekend the three-time champion was reflective, and remained confident that both he and his team-mate could bounce back.

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“It’s not been one of our best ones,” admitted Neal. “I said to Flash [Shedden], you’ve got to learn to roll with the punches in this game and be prepared to have rough weekends – this one has just been particularly rough for the whole team.

“We’re not out of it. We’ve slipped back in the points but there’s a positive that we go lighter to the next one.”

After his race two exit, Neal started Sunday’s final race from 21st, but produced an impressive recovery drive to finish 11th.

That finish still fell short of his aspirations, although Neal conceded that his progress had been limited as a result of damage sustained in race two.

“We got some points – I’d have hoped for better,” he said, when asked by TouringCars.Net about his recovery. “The car should have gone a lot better than that but the lads did a fantastic job on both cars to get them out for the last one.

“I was struggling a little bit, not so much with speed down the straights with less weight, but with the front end which I think was a little bit of a carryover from race two and the damage in that.”

Having started the weekend third in the championship standings, Neal will now head to Knockhill as the sixth-best placed driver, 42 points shy of leader Jason Plato and ten behind Shedden.

A drop in the standings for both Honda drivers means that they will both head to the Scottish circuit with less ballast, and Neal was confident that his car’s attributes would suit the circuit as he eyed a return to the front of the field.

“There is a positive as the weight can kill you a bit there,” he said of his drop in the standings. “It’s a BMW circuit but the Civic is nimble and being a bit lighter could help us in qualifying.

“As the VWs have shown, if you qualify at the front you can have a great weekend so we just need one of those to get back at them really.”

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