MATT NEAL faces his toughest test yet to win a fourth British Touring Car Championship.

The 2014 season, which starts at Brands Hatch this weekend, is the most competitive for a number of years with a huge 31 car grid containing seven former champions.

Neal and Honda Yuasa team-mate Gordon Shedden are also getting to grips with the Civic Tourer race car – the only estate car on the BTCC grid, which replaces the Civic R Type.

"It's a big challenge for us," admitted former Droitwich resident Neal.

"I did realise how big a challenge it was going to be, it's got some tricky things about driving it.

"It's not as easy as the hatch to drive but it's got some positives as well.

"We're making massive improvements everytime we hit the track.

"It's heavier, the central of gravity is a lot higher."

Neal is also recovering from a broken toe sustained several weeks ago.

He also broke a finger in September last year while undertaking a street fighting examination.

But the race is was quick in the final test event at Donnington Park last week.

He will be aiming to improve on last season's fourth-place finish.

He had lead the drivers' standings for two-thirds of the season before Andrew Jordan over took him.