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Rockingham: Neal 'chuffed to bits' with hard tyre result

Despite running the dreaded hard compound tyre, Honda's Matt Neal came within a handful of laps of joining team mate Gordon Shedden on the podium at Rockingham.
Halfords Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal has moved to within striking distance of British Touring Car Championship leader Sam Tordoff after securing a vital fourth place finish during the final reverse grid race at Rockingham.

Unlike most, the former triple BTCC champion was able to make the hard compound tyre work to the effect of finishing fourth, having held a place on the podium for much of the final race.

A brace of safety car periods, which neutralised the existing gaps formed, ultimately worked against the favour of Neal as the Team Dynamics driver was powerless in holding Subaru's Colin Turkington at bay for third.

Nevertheless, a total of 31-points over the three races means Neal trails West Surrey Racing's Tordoff by just 5-points as the title race moves to Silverstone in just over two-weekends time.

"The first two races were hard work. But I was chuffed to bits to get that result with the hard tyre in the last race," Neal told Crash.net.

"I think we'd have finished on the podium. It was only that safety car which pulled Turkington back into us, otherwise I would have been up there. We managed to gap them but it is what it is.

"We tested here earlier in the year with the hard tyre so we knew it wasn't going to be easy. But it actually performed similar in race three to how we tested earlier in the year.

"It's been tough. We've been salvaging some points. We were lucky with the rain, at least Flash [Shedden] was. I was thinking I'd be alright in the dry but we've managed to salvage some points and keep the pressure on."

Turning his attentions to Silverstone, Neal - while anticipating what could be a tough weekend for his Honda Civic Type-R squad - believes the national layout of the Grand Prix venue could well suit the rival BMW outfit.

Given WSR's qualifying struggle, Neal could well have left Rockingham in the championship lead but Tordoff managed to alleviate the damage by winning the second race at a canter.

"BMW salvaged a lot. They've salvaged a lot from what was looking to be a really bad weekend for them. I think they'll bounce back even more at Silverstone. I think that will suit them even more," Neal continued.

"I think their engine works better at the top end and Silverstone is mainly three straights now. So I think it will suit the Fords, BMWs and TOCA engine cars. It could be a tough weekend for us but we're breathing down their necks anyway."



Related Pictures

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Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R
Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R
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WSR BMW  - Gardx / JCT 600 teams champions
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