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Matt Neal says partial resurfacing makes Donington Park ‘a new challenge’

Matt Neal says the partial resurfacing of Donington Park’s circuit, coupled with the new-for-2017 Dunlop tyres, makes this weekends British Touring Car Championship meeting at the 1.9 mile track ‘a new challenge’.

The circuit, acquired by MSV in January for an initial 21-year lease, has been resurfaced at McLeans, Redgate and the infamous Craner Curves.

The entire field minus Josh Price have all had a chance to tackle the new surface during the official pre-season test at Media Day.

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The net result means nearly 5000m² of new tarmac has been laid down. Work finished in March.

They’ve resurfaced some of the circuit this year and it will be the first time we will have run on the harder-compound Dunlop tyres in 2017, so that will be a new challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it – and to celebrating my first win of the year on home turf!” said Neal.

“I came away from Brands Hatch feeling positive; of course I was disappointed by the overall result, but I was dead chuffed with the way I was able to battle back through in races two and three and the Civic Type R felt great.”

The three-time champion also paid tribute to the raised standard of competition in the capacity 32-car field, underlining that qualifying will be even more essential as he looks to claw back the standings deficit to team-mate Gordon Shedden.

“One thing that is very clear from Brands is that the field is of an immensely high calibre this year and you really do have to fight for every single position,” admitted Neal.

“It’s still very early days in the season so to be a bit further back in the standings at this stage isn’t the end of the world by a long chalk, and it means I’ll be light going to Donington.

“I need to make the most of that by qualifying on the front two rows of the grid and bringing away a big bagful of points. It’s always great to race at my local track and I have a lot of special memories there, going right back to my very first BTCC win in 1999.”

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