Honda Racing team star Matt Neal has thrust himself right back into the title fight for this season's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after a win and a third place finish at Knockhill in Scotland on Sunday.
Neal has moved into second place in the standings after the rounds in Fife and is optimistic of reaching the title summit in the remaining six rounds of this season's competition, which continues at Donington Park on 18th and 19th September. Neal carried a full load of success ballast to notch a fourth place finish in race one. He then took his fourth victory of the year in race two before he battled to third place in the final event of the weekend. It meant he outscored all his rivals over the three events and has edged closer to the top of the chase for the coveted crown.
Matt Neal, Honda Racing Team, says:
It has been a great weekend for the Honda Racing Team because not only did I manage to take a race win but we have also moved to the top of the Manufacturers' Standings, which is important for the team as a whole and shows what a great job everyone's been doing. In the Driver' Standing, the whole situation has closed up which is what we wanted to achieve. The Honda has been a fantastic car for the confines of Knockhill, which is small and hilly. The handling of the Civic has always been a great strength and that meant I was able to capitalise when I had open road. When I got the lead of race two, the car just got better and better.
There was further glory for Neal's partner in the Honda Racing Team stable, Gordon Shedden. The local fans' favourite thrilled a packed crowd by scorching to victory in the opening race of the weekend and then followed Neal across the line in the second race to take more silverware. Those two results, plus a ninth place in the final round after he had been punted off circuit by a rival, have consolidated Shedden's fourth place in the points race.
Shedden said afterwards:
We knew that this would be a chance for us to score some big points and that is the way I thought it was going to go. I was taken out by someone else in a stupid accident in the third race but managed to salvage something to build on the two podiums I scored earlier in the day. I could have had even more points out of the weekend than I did but to win in front of my home fans is always special.
Both Neal and Shedden are optimistic as the title race moves in to its final stages, and team principal Steve Neal thinks that there are more strong showings on the horizon at Donington Park in two weeks' time, saying:
The momentum has swung back in our direction, We needed to score some big points here at Knockhill and we won two of the three races, so we have done what we set out to do. Donington Park is another circuit that plays to the strengths of our car. Things are looking good.