Neal wants number four
Honda driver hoping for another successful season in BTCC
By William Esler - Twitter @SkySportsWill. Last Updated: 06/02/12 12:19pm
Reigning British Touring Car champion Matt Neal is setting his sights on a fourth title in 2012.
Honda Racing were the class of the field in 2011, with the combination of car, engine and driver making them difficult to catch as the stormed to the drivers, teams and constructors championships.
Sky Sports caught up with Neal ahead of the new season and he admitted it was a dream to join an elite group of triple champions.
He said: "It was a great year. It's a little bit surreal. I never thought I'd win it once and now to be sitting here with 3 titles, it's all happened a bit quickly."
2012 marks the start of a new era for Team Dynamics, who run the cars on Honda's behalf. They are bidding farewell to their S2000 cars and prepare a new Civic built to TOCA's NGTC rules.
"The 8th version of the Civic which was the FN2 Civic, my cars heading out to Sweden to race, and I'm sad to see it go," Neal added.
"It's been a fantastic car, just beautiful to drive, the engine the chassis, every bit of it.
"You're only as good as the tools underneath you and me and Flash (Gordon Shedden) had an awesome car last year.
"But on the positive side the new car, the new shape looks really, really good, which we're putting into NGTC regs now.
"It looks good. It's a brand new clean sheet of paper and new regs. We've never built a car to NGTC regs before so its going to be a learning curve for us.
"The one good thing the engine and gearbox we used in 2011 is the same, so we can drop that in and that's a known proven commodity to base it round, but it's going to be new territory for us and that brings an element of excitement as well."
Indeed the performance of the Honda engine last season was a bone of contention for some rivals, who regularly complained about the performance Team Dynamics had found.
He laughs: "Who have you been talking to?"
"The new rules, it has to be based on a standard engine, the Honda is magnificent.
"Because it's based around the high-revving V-Tech, it can cope with the stresses and the strains of what we're putting through it anyway."
After a stressful season, including the infamous crash with team-mate Gordon Shedden at Oulton Park taking both cars into the gravel on the final corner of the final lap when in the lead, Neal is hoping he can relax more this season, even if he is fighting for the championship.
"I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can, and try to have some fun along the way," he said.
"It got a bit stressful at times last year, but I think to win it, or to be up there with a chance of winning it you need an element of luck, and I might get that this year I might not, but again I think we've got two strong packages in me and Flash, so we'll be working together and see where we end up."