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Matt Neal hails ‘perfect weekend’ and tops standings after Brands Hatch

Matt Neal paid tribute to what he described as a ‘perfect weekend’, with the three-time champion emerging from the opening three rounds of the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as the standings leader after securing a brace of podium finishes.

For the second season in succession, Neal will head to the second meeting of the year at Donington Park at the top of the Drivers Championship, with a five point margin to Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate and defending champion, Gordon Shedden, with WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan just one additional point adrift.

Neal finished the first round of the season in 3rd, behind Shedden and Ingram, before going one better in round two as the works Honda outfit claimed their first 1-2 finish of the season. Neal then cemented a strong weekend with 5th in the reverse grid race to cap off a good first three races for the 2005, 2006 and 2011 champion.

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Commenting after the dust had settled at Brands Hatch, Neal paid tribute to the team’s sponsors and dedicated a good weekend to both Halfords and Yuasa.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend and a cracking day today [3rd April] for the team,” concurred Neal. “What a way to welcome Halfords back to the fold and to repay Yuasa’s loyal support. I’m over-the-moon – dead chuffed.

He also felt that the team were too cautious on the engineering front in the initial exchanges of the new season, highlighting the manic nature of the weekend, and the BTCC in general.

“We probably went a bit too safe with the car due to the conditions in race one, and race two got a bit sketchy at times; ‘Flash’ and I were settled in third and fourth when it all kicked off ahead of us between the two leaders, and then there was oil down on the track at Graham Hill Bend later on. We scored more solid points in race three, and to come away from Brands leading the championship is just the perfect start.”

The 32-car capacity grid heads next to Donington Park over the weekend of 16th-17th April, where Neal took a victory in the reverse grid race last season ahead of Andrew Jordan. He will look to repeat the feat and extend his championship lead as the circus rolls on after a fascinating opening weekend.

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