By Jamie Arrowsmith 14/06 Updated: 21/06 16:40
DEFENDING BTCC champion Matt Neal enjoyed a superb weekend at Oulton Park as he picked up two race victories to keep himself firmly in the hunt for another title.
In fact it was a fantastic weekend for Neal and his Honda team as team-mate Gordon Shedden won the day’s other race to hold a five point lead over his Worcestershire rival at the top of the standings.
After Shedden’s dominant performance last time out at Thruxton, it was Neal’s turn to star at Oulton. He narrowly missed out on pole, but took the lead of race one early on and never looked back. Only the independent Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan was able to stay close to the triple champion.
Shedden found the set-up not to his liking, but still battled to a fine fourth before changing his Civic for the second race. When Neal was struck with a turbo problem in the early laps and delayed Jordan, the championship leader was able to move from fifth to third.
The Honda then closed on the squabbling Rob Collard and Mat Jackson at the front, and jumped past both when the two clashed exiting Island hairpin. Shedden then led Jordan home to take his fifth victory of the season.
Despite his turbo issue, Neal managed to salvage fifth, which handed him a row-three start for the reversed-grid finale. He quickly charged to the front, then defeated arch-rival Jason Plato to score his third win of 2012, while Shedden was only 1.1 seconds behind the victor, in fourth.
Neal believes the results demonstrate how good the Civic is, despite the fact that it has to run the lowest amount of turbo boost in the series due to the regulations.
“We still don’t agree with the rules, but we’ve won eight out of 12 races, which is monumental,” he said.
“The car’s good and we’ve continued to improve it. We had a great test at Pembrey, but we’re going to keep pushing.
“To have such a strong weekend in the manufacturers’ and teams’ points is very important to us also.”
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