Matt Neal admits he is under no illusions about the challenge ahead during the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season and has tipped VX Racing team-mates Fabrizio Giovanardi and Andrew Jordan as the pair likely to provide his stiffest challenge.
Having secured back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, Neal saw Giovanardi steal his crown in 2007 and then successfully defend it again last year in a season where Neal moved over from the family-run Team Dynamics squad to partner the Italian at Vauxhall.
For Neal, the 2008 campaign was one of ups and downs, with just a single win at Rockingham over the course of the year, but he now heads into the new season keen to try and reclaim his title although he admits that Giovanardi probably starts the campaign as the favourite.
“I'm under no illusions about the opposition, but I still believe that the greatest challenge I'm going to have this year is from within,” he told Crash.net
. “Fabrizio has to be the favourite again and he is very special. I'm under no illusions, but I am going out there to try and win races and string something together.”
Neal added that he was impressed with how youngster Jordan was settling into the team after replacing Tom Onslow-Cole during the winter, even if one of the more seasoned drivers on the grid wasn't too impressed with his new team-mates young age.
“It's hard to believe he is only 20 – if that, the bastard!” he quipped. “But he is great, from a nice family and with his feet on the floor; he is settling in very well.
“Andy is very quick and has proved himself in front-wheel drive amongst other things and has settled into the Vectra well. He'll be up their challenging. It's just consistency [that's needed for a title challenge]. That's something Fabrizio does well, to score in every race. If Andy can do that, there is no reason why he can't challenge.”