Matt Neal has paid tribute to his Honda Racing Team after scooping the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone last weekend.
A victory, a second place and an eighth position were enough for Neal to take his two-litre turbocharged Honda Civic to title glory, just eight points ahead of his team-mate Gordon Shedden.
“What an incredible feeling,” says Neal. “It has been such a tough fight this season, not only with all the rivals on the grid but from my team-mate ‘Flash’ Gordon too. It has been nip-and-tuck all the way between all of us and for the title battle to come down to the final race was so tense.
“Winning it is a great reward for all the team and we have had the most consistent car across the season. The engine has been sweet and the chassis has been strong at every circuit we have gone to. I have to thank everyone at Honda (UK) for giving me such a great platform to perform with and that is what has given us this championship.”
Neal took his eighth win of the season at the Northamptonshire track and that set him up to clinch the crown for the third time in his career in the final race of the afternoon in front of trackside 30,000 fans. He said that the victory had been the key to his weekend, but also paid further tribute to team-mate ‘Flash’ Gordon too.
“I never thought I would win this once, let alone three times,” adds Neal. “We have the new Honda Civic coming out for next season and we are going to work hard on that, and Flash is improving every step of the way, so the package should be great next year too. We’ll both be pushing hard, but I think it would be great for him to get one. He deserves it.”
Shedden said that he had a taste of the title showdown and is looking forward to another challenge for the title in 2012. He won the second race of the weekend and backed that up with a podium in the opener, but it wasn’t quite enough for him to overhaul Neal in the final reckoning.
“Finishing first and second is a reward for the effort we have put in for the whole season,” says ‘Flash’. “We have worked so hard. I am getting closer to claiming the overall title and I am on Matt Neal’s heels now. When you see how happy everyone is in the whole team, it’s just mega, you can’t be disappointed though even though I didn’t take the crown.
“We have had a great car, Honda’s support has been monumental and we’ve taken a clean sweep of all the trophies on offer for success in the British Touring Car Championship this season. How can that be a bad year? All we have to do is go out there and repeat it in 2012…”