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Matt Neal ‘didn’t expect to make it up that far’ in race two

Honda’s Matt Neal admits he was surprised to have gained as many positions as he did in the second British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park, after he went from the back of the grid to 11th in an eventful race.

Neal started in 30th at the very back after he crashed out of race one when he lost a wheel at Druids, with his Civic having been hastily repaired after the race due to the damage it picked up with a big impact into the barriers.

The three-time champion then made up more places than any other driver in race two, gaining 19 places from start to finish, including nine places on the opening lap alone.

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Whilst Neal admits that he was a bit lucky early on in the race, he also criticised the driving standards in the lower ranks of the field.

“I was light, I was lucky and on lap one it was all kicking off,”said Neal to TouringCars.Net. “I can’t believe it. You hear Mark Blundell talk about it [driving standards] but it’s only when you see it…

“You have to have an element of luck involved. I just saw the gaps and managed to stay in fresh air, really.

“We were on the soft tyre and it was great, I think we looked after them as good as anybody. I wasn’t happy when the safety cars came out, I just wanted to go on and on. They didn’t deteriorate at all.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it that far up to be honest. I would have been pleased to get into the teens, so to go get to the 11th [was great].

“I was lucky with the amount of people who went out on the first lap, but the car was great – the car was really phenomenal.”

Referring to his race one shunt which compromised his weekend, Neal explained that the wheel could have detached after he picked up a vibration from running over the kerbs.

“There was a tell-tale sign, but not a lot, when I got to the top of Clay Hill. You just stroke the brake as you go from sixth to fifth for Druids, and as I stroked the brake, the pedal went very long – we do suffer with that around here if you run the kerbs.

“I thought it was a bit early in the race, and as I turned in [it went]. It was obviously just a bit of a vibration coming up the hill.

“I was a passenger and it was one of those accidents when you have a long time to think about it.

“It would be nice to get the team some silverware [as a reward for the repair job] by the end of the day.”

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