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Neal backing Shedden’s title push in season finale

Matt Neal says he will back Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden’s bid for the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) title at Brands Hatch this weekend, as the team target two titles in the season finale.

Whilst Neal, who is fourth overall in the drivers’ standings, is mathematically still in title contention, the former triple champion is 37 points adrift of his points-leading team-mate, making such a significant swing in the standings unlikely in one meeting.

“With the season heading right down to the wire in terms of the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles, there are two key focuses for me at Brands to help make sure we do the business on both counts,” explained Neal. “I need to back Flash’s push for the top spot in the standings by providing as much support as possible, whilst we’ll be aiming to score the strongest finishes we can as a collective to win the manufacturers’ championship for Honda.

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“There are still plenty of points on offer and everyone knows things can switch around on a sixpence in the BTCC, so we have to keep our eyes on the ball and concentrate on bringing home the trophies.

“I love Brands Hatch, as most drivers do. It’s got a unique heritage – it’s up there with the most famous circuits worldwide – and the atmosphere is second-to-none. I’m confident our car will be very well-suited to the track, especially through the high-speed corners – and we will definitely use that to our advantage.”

Neal, who celebrated 25 years in the BTCC last time out at Silverstone, has finished outside the top three in the last two seasons, making a top three classification in the drivers’ standings his aim from the weekend.

“Personally, my goal is to finish inside the overall top three – that would certainly crown what has been an impressive debut season for the new Civic Type R.”

Shedden currently leads the drivers’ championship by 23 points from Team BMR’s Jason Plato, a margin which could easily be eroded with a bad result in one of the weekend’s three races. Nevertheless, the Scot is feeling comfortable ahead of the finale.

“I’m feeling good,” said Shedden. “Silverstone was always going to be a little bit of an unknown for us given how the previous three years had gone there – but our results proved just how good this Civic Type R truly is. I think we exceeded even our own expectations.

“Now we go to Brands Hatch GP, and there really is no better place to end the season. It’s a great circuit – old-school and a proper drivers’ track, and everybody loves racing there.

“I’m confident our Civic Type R will be awesome again and I’m not feeling any pressure – just excitement. I feel comfortable inside the team and at one with the car. I can draw upon our experience from the last few years, I’m relaxed and I’m in a happy place.

“I’m sure the complexion of the championship will twist and turn quite a bit over the course of the weekend – as it always tends to do – but I’ll just approach it the same way I have all season. That’s worked pretty well so far, so I don’t see any reason to change now.”

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