Matt Neal says he felt ‘wounded’ after his issue in the second British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton, which saw the Honda driver face an uphill struggle in the second and third races of the day.
Having taken his 60th career win ahead of team-mate Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden in the opening race of the day, off the back of his first pole position in five years, Neal went into race two in high spirits.
However a power steering issue after just one lap of leading saw Neal tumble to the back of the pack, and the lost time after a pit-stop to reset the issue saw him finish 29th and last, although he was able to post the fastest lap of the race despite carrying maximum ballast.
The three-time champion then put in one of the drives of the season to make up 19 places in the final race and finish in tenth.
“After the disappointment of Donington, we needed to bounce back and I’m really going to cherish this 60th win,” said Neal. “The Civic Type R has always been amazing at Thruxton – we work hard on the aero, and this circuit is primarily high-speed corners.
“‘Flash’ certainly made me work for pole, and to come away with a Halfords Yuasa Racing one-two and a Honda podium lockout on home soil in the first race was a dream – a fabulous result to reward all the guys and girls from the factory who came down to support us.”
By battling through the pack in race three, Neal missed out on the chance to gain a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race, although the points he earned for the top ten finish have kept him seventh overall in the drivers’ championship standings.
“I felt a bit wounded after race two, because that was another win in the bag – ‘Flash’ and I could really have made hay out there – but the car was magnificent in race three.
“The team said to me, ‘why don’t you drop back and see if you can go for fastest lap’, but I thought ‘stuff that’ and had a lot of fun. I just wanted to keep going at the end…”
Neal’s drive through the field in race three represents the second-most positions gained by any driver in one race in 2017 so far, after his drive through the field in race two at Brands Hatch gained him 20 places.