16th Feb, 2019

Matt Neal creates more BTCC history at Snetterton

Craig Gibbons 1st Aug, 2018 Updated: 1st Aug, 2018

DROITWICH-based team Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal etched his name on another British Touring Car Championship milestone after collecting a maximum double points haul in the series’ 60-mile Diamond Jubilee blue riband race.

The series marked its 60th anniversary at Snetterton, Norfolk, and concluded with a special third race run over 60-miles (21 laps).

With the added reward of double points and the unique opportunity to both qualify and race on zero ballast, the stakes for a single BTCC race had never been higher.

Nevertheless, Neal and the Team Dynamics-backed Honda squad saved its best until last with an inch-perfect performance with the Honda Civic Type R (FK8) when it mattered.

Starting from the front row, Neal retained second position before steadily upping the pressure on initial front-runner Jack Goff.

Holding his nerve during a brief drizzly spell on lap nine whilst his rival made an error, Neal pounced to snatch the lead.

From here Neal’s precision driving took him all the way to the chequered flag for an emotional second victory of the season.

With points added for leading and for his fastest lap, Neal’s maximum 44 points is the most ever awarded for a single race and fittingly marks another crowning career moment for the series’ most experienced racer in his 651st outing.

Neal’s success sees him slash the margin in the BTCC drivers’ standings, now only 16 points adrift of top spot.

On a day yielding multiple silverware success for Honda, Dan Cammish delivered in the tricky wet conditions of race one to claim the third podium of his rookie season with a faultless drive to third.

He followed that up with fourth in race two to extend his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy.

His efforts contributed to a landmark weekend for the team as a whole with Honda closing the gap to BMW in the manufacturers’ championship and Halfords Yuasa Racing leaping to the top of the teams’ championship with four rounds and 12 races remaining.

“It was a truly magical day for the entire Halfords Yuasa Racing team,” said Neal.

“To produce a result like this on a level playing field with no success ballast is testament to the pure performance and the fundamental competitiveness of the Civic Type R, as well as demonstrate how hard the team has worked to unlock its potential since the start of the season.

“We had a tough race one and two in tough conditions, but we were always confident for the ‘big one’ from the front row and while the car didn’t feel settled initially it got better and better as the race went on.

“Once I was in the lead I was determined not to put a wheel wrong, which was tough because Jack and Tom (Ingram) were all over me, but the Civic Type R performed perfectly right to the flag.

“I’m so very proud to be part of another landmark BTCC moment, it is one I certainly won’t forget.”

Neal’s team-mate Cammish added: “It was a positive weekend overall and I am especially happy to be back on the BTCC podium.

“They were very difficult wet conditions in race one but the Civic Type R felt composed throughout and just served to make the end third place result more satisfying.

“In race two I couldn’t quite hold off Tom (Ingram) in his much lighter car on the run to the line but fourth place is still a very valuable points haul.

“We had a very fast car in race three, but I was caught up in the tight pack and then made a mistake on a greasy track which dropped me back.

“Nevertheless, the pace has been strong this weekend as a whole, which gives me confidence for the upcoming rounds where I will be going all out for victory.

“Finally, huge congratulations to Matt Neal and the whole team for a brilliant victory in the ‘Diamond Double’ final race.”

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