Monday, August 06 2012
Reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion and 2012 title leader Matt Neal thinks that the battle is now between his Honda team and MG's Jason Plato. The series returns from its summer break this weekend (11/12 August) for its second appearance on the Snetterton 300 circuit.
"The Next Generation Touring Cars have the advantage," Matt confirmed. "The S2000s will still win races but they won't feature in the championship. Jason and Flash (Shedden) are the two main guys I'll be fighting."
Last year Plato enjoyed a productive weekend at Neal's expense, closing a points gap that some had thought unassailable. With Plato closer to the Hondas in 2012, has the team been working on the car? "We've got a couple of tweaks," he explained. "But the nature of the NGTC regulations means we can't do too much. However there are a couple of things we might try at Snetterton. The nature of the circuit with the long straights won't suit us thanks to the boost handicapping, however the rest of the circuit is technical which suits the Civic's chassis, so we will be in the hunt."
Neal's cautious optimism is no doubt informed by strong weekends at Oulton Park and Croft, however he is expecting a strong fight for the wins. "Snetterton always throws up physical racing throughout the circuit," he predicted. "Last year it was kicking off everywhere and last year I lost out at the first turn which meant I was then on the back foot, so we'll see how the dice roll." However that doesn't mean he'll be easy meat into Riches: "I'll be in the same frame of mind," he warns.
Matt also said he doesn't expect anyone to step forward in pace despite the added familiarity with the 300 circuit this year. "It is what it is," he said. "A few had tested there before last year's race, so there is no difference." One thing is for certain, he's looking forward to returning to Norfolk: "I like Snetterton, I was a fan of the old circuit and the 300 is a step forward."
Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton on 11-12 August are available from £25, with free admission for children 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.