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Matt Neal hails ‘fantastic weekend’ at Knockhill

Matt Neal was pleased to leave Knockhill still in the thick of the British Touring Car Championship title battle, as the Honda driver scored in all three races and also took his third win of the season.

Having had an indifferent qualifying session, that saw the three-time champion put his Civic in eighth on the grid for the first race, Neal and team-mate Gordon Shedden opted to run the less-favourable hard tyre in race one.

That resulted in a top ten finish with eighth, giving him a lower top ten grid position for the second race of the day.

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With less ballast on board, and crucially the softer tyres, Neal was able to really shine, although not until later in the race.

With a lead battle raging between the top four cars, the field remained relatively close together and by lap 18 Neal was on the tail of the battle at the front.

When Colin Turkington and Jack Goff tangled with each other exiting the hairpin, Neal pounced to move into a podium position and his race then came alive as he was able to attack for, and take, the lead.

“Both of us took the pain on the hard tyres in the first race, but I really enjoyed race two,” explained Neal. “Being on the soft tyres, I thought we would have a chance from where we were starting.

“After catching the leaders, I could see they were beginning to struggle a bit and I was able to capitalise upon their battle. The Halfords Yuasa Racing Civic Type R was monstrous right the way to the end.”

Neal followed up with a strong fifth in the final race of the day, which saw him start from sixth in the reverse-grid draw and forced to carry the maximum success ballast.

“With 75kg of ballast in the car in race three, I honestly thought a top ten finish would be a good outcome,” added Neal, “so I was really pleased to take fifth.

“We came to Knockhill anticipating a tough weekend with the weight we were carrying and its reputation as a rear wheel-drive circuit, so to leave with a win and still sitting second in the championship is fantastic.”

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