Matt Neal has confirmed that he will remain in the BTCC for a record-breaking 30th season, staying behind the wheel of a Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R FK8 for the 2020 campaign.
Neal, who holds the accolade for the most BTCC seasons out of any driver in history is a three-time series champion with title wins in 2005, 2006 and 2011. All three of his titles came driving a Team Dynamics prepared Honda, and Neal has 63 BTCC race wins and 17 pole positions to his name. He finished the 2019 campaign 9th in the overall driver’s standings, with five podium finishes coming at Donington Park, Thruxton, Silverstone and Brands Hatch GP.
53-year old Neal was delighted to remain on the grid for 2020 and was excited to remain part of the BTCC’s continued rise in popularity.
“I can’t believe it’s my 30th year!” he said. “It seems like only yesterday that I was competing in my first championship race and winning my first race. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the years, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. The championship continues to grow in stature, both in the UK and on a world platform and I take my hat off to Alan Gow (Series Chief Executive) for making that happen. The evolving regulations and the adoption of new technologies, like hybrid, fill me with excitement for what is coming downstream.
Personally, I look back on my years in the BTCC and reflect a little on what could have been —several years I’ve missed out on the title by only a few points, but that’s racing for you!
Neal’s long BTCC career has seen his race against some of the series’ most successful and decorated drivers including John Cleland, Jason Plato, Colin Turkington, Alain Menu, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Gordon Shedden. Something which the three-time champion cherishes.
“Overall, I look back with a wry grin on my face and feel honoured to have raced against some of the best drivers in the world, there are just too many to mention, but we have been graced with some amazing names and personalities over the years and I have gone head-to-head with them all.”
With the Honda Civic FK8 entering its third season in the BTCC, Neal was confident as he spoke about his hopes for the 2020 campaign. Neal’s teammate Dan Cammish came within two laps of securing the BTCC title in 2019.
“I go into 2020 as hungry as ever to win my fourth BTCC title” continued Neal “and take it to Colin [Turkington], and of course my own team-mate Dan [Cammish], who continues to impress me with his driving aptitude. We work well as a team and I’d hope that I have played an influential part during his BTCC career in developing him to be the driver he is today. Dan is undeniably quick and the old adage in motorsport is that you always have to beat your team-mate first. So that will be the challenge this season.
The Honda FK8 Type R is now a pretty potent package in its third season and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel testing again next month. With Honda, Halfords and Yuasa all partnering us again for another season, as well as all our other supporting sponsors, we have the ingredients in place for an exciting year ahead. But will it be my last? We’ll have to wait and see!”
Neal’s relationship with Honda stretches back over a decade, and Honda UK Managing Director David Hodgetts paid tribute to Neal’s career and was equally bullish about Honda’s prospects ahead of the upcoming BTCC season.
Hodgetts said “Matt continues to be a fantastic ambassador for Honda and our company philosophy where innovation, teamwork and a ‘challenging spirit’ remain at the heart of our business. We have developed a great relationship with Matt during ten consecutive seasons together in the BTCC and I very much look forward to more success for the Civic Type-R in 2020.”
The announcement completes Honda’s factory BTCC lineup for the 2020 BTCC season, and the first race of the new campaign will take place on the weekend of 28th/29th March at Donington Park.