Although his pre-season has been far from easy, Matt Neal has warned his rivals to write him off at his peril as he attempts to secure a third successive Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title.

Neal goes into the new season this weekend at Brands Hatch desperately short of track time, with his new Team Halfords Honda Civic having only hit the track for the first time little more than a week ago at Brands Hatch. Neal was also due to run at Pembrey earlier this week only for his test to come to an early end due to gearbox issues.

However, despite his problems, said he could still be a contender for the title this season, although he admitted that he is very much an outsider.

"I think the others should write me off at their peril," he said. "I'd have to put myself down as a bit of an outsider at the moment because we've got a brand new car with very little mileage on it, but on the other side of the coin it looks like a fantastic motor so I could argue both cases.

"OK, we've only done one shakedown, one day at a damp Brands Hatch split into sessions and half a day at Pembrey when the gearbox broke. The team is learning about the car all the time, but at least before the gearbox packed up we'd started to concentrate on fine tuning it.

"The potential in this car is massive - it's just up to us to get it out."