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Matt Neal: "Every driver looks forward to Brands GP"

Sunday, September 24 2017

Triple Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal could be the joker in the pack at next weekend's (30 September-1 October) title decider on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, as the series veteran sets his sights on race wins.

Neal scored his 60th BTCC win earlier this season, but had to wait until Silverstone to take his second victory of the season. Now that he's not in contention for the title, he wants to end the year on the top step of the podium at one of his favourite circuits.

"I think every driver on the grid looks forward to coming to Brands, especially the GP layout," Matt said. "For me, I'm coming in with no pressure, there's not a championship to win or lose, just to enjoy the weekend and see what results we can get. The Honda is mega to drive, it's lovely, we've just got to have a bit of luck, that's what you need, really."

One advantage Matt's lowly seventh place in the standings is that he'll have a relatively light 27kg of success ballast added to his Honda Civic Type R at the start of the weekend. "Hopefully we can give it a good run in qualifying, see what the weather's going to present us with, and if we start at the front we can have some solid results," he said.

Matt, who turned 50 last December, is used to being in the thick of BTCC title fights, and having missed the cut for next weekend's finale rankles with him. Indeed, his summary of 2017 is "what might have been.

"The car we've got, the Type R as it is now is the best NGTC car I've ever sat in, so it's a shame we haven't been able to give it some mega results. It's not that it doesn't have the speed, it's just not worked out, but that's life, you've just got to roll with it. I think on the day the car can win, so I'm looking forward to see if I can get right up there at Brands.

"We'll see what we can do, see if we can get [Honda team-mate] Gordon [Shedden] to keep third place. Ingram is on good form, but I think Flash on his day will come up with some good results."

With thoughts well and truly focussed on outright performance rather than Shedden's slim title hopes, Matt offers his thoughts on the title duel between Colin Turkington and Ashley Sutton. "It's trodden ground for Turks, and I think he knows the pressure, he's been there before," he said. "I think Ashley is driving really well, but my money would have to go on Colin."

If Colin does win the title next weekend, he'll be the third triple champion on the grid alongside Matt and Gordon. "At least I started the new club," Matt jokes. "I'm just proud to be with them, so that's great."

Tickets for the BTCC at Brands Hatch on 30 September-1 October are available in advance from £27 with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click  here.