Matt Neal has admitted his plan for the triple header of British Touring Car Championship races at Croft this weekend is to continue the consistent points scoring that sees the three-time champion currently sit second in the standings, one point adrift of Sam Tordoff.
Neal, who claimed victory in the final race of the weekend at Oulton Park a fortnight ago, has scored three of his five strongest results, including both his race wins, in reverse grid races this season.
Both he and Halfords Yuasa Racing have deployed a marked plan of managing their success ballast during qualifying before gradually working their way through the order across the day before hammering home a strong result for both cars in the final race.
Both Neal and team-mate Shedden scored a 1-2 finish in race three at Donington Park and would have done so again at Oulton had the defending champion not suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap of the race.
The end result sees Neal a single point adrift of Tordoff at the summit of the championship, despite the latter scoring a near-perfect weekend at Oulton including a race win and a brace of second place finishes.
Looking ahead to the weekend, Neal paid tribute to the 2.13 mile venue for its spectator value and explained why the circuit ranks among his favorite on the calendar.
“Croft is a circuit I’ve always enjoyed; I love how close the fans get to the action there – they can really smell the burning brakes and rubber, which makes for a fantastic spectator experience.”
The BMW trio of Tordoff, Rob Collard and fans favorite Jack Goff are tipped to be the dominant force in Yorkshire this weekend, with the three BMW 125i M-Sport machines claiming all three victories at Croft in 2015.
Regardless, Neal feels that his striking orange and black Honda Civic Type R ticks all the boxes for a competitive weekend and, buoyed by a recent test at Rockingham between meetings, the team head north in good shape to continue their fight for strong results.
“You need a good all-round package underneath you at Croft –traction in the slow-speed sections, agility through the tight-and-twisty parts and stability for the fast corners out the back, which call for a lot of commitment,”
“They are all areas in which the Civic Type R scores highly, and we had a positive and productive test at Rockingham earlier this week which enabled us to get a solid handle on the car.”
Finally, Neal explained his ethos of consistency heading into the weekend and underlined the significance of avoiding the bad luck that has thus far occasionally plagued team-mate Shedden’s championship efforts.
“If you look at how competitive it is in the standings, every point is critical this year – all it takes is one hiccough to send you tumbling down the order – so it’s essential that we stay focussed and continue consistently racking up the results.”
The three races at Croft get underway on Sunday 19th June at 12:02, 14:32 and 17:09 respectively.