Neal’s title hopes are hanging in the balance

Up in smoke: Matt Neil's Honda on fire. Picture: DARREN PRICE

Up in smoke: Matt Neil's Honda on fire. Picture: DARREN PRICE

First published in Sport

MATT Neal’s defence of the British Touring Car Championship looks to be hanging by a thread after a disastrous weekend at Silverstone.

The three-time champion failed to finish all three races in front of a 30,000-strong crowd, while his rivals all took advantage.

It means going into the final three races at Brands Hatch over the weekend of October 20 and 21, Neal is in a four-way tussle with Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan for the title.

Despite a poor weekend where he was beset by problems, Neal believes he can win the championship for a fourth time.

“That was a shocker but I’m not out of it yet — there are still a lot of points to be won at Brands and I’ll be going there with all guns blazing,” said Neal.

“Jason’s MG will be strong there and our main objective is to get a Honda over the line in first.”

Neal was plagued with technical problems in his Honda Yusasa drive and was forced to retire in race one, which was won by MG driver Plato.

Things got even worse in the next race when the Droitwich driver saw his car catch fire.

Meanwhile, Mat Jackson produced a stunning display as he moved from 17th place to victory.

But when Neal was forced off the track and into a barrier in the third and final race, he knew it was a weekend to forget.

Plato, who drives for MG KX Momentum Racing, rounded off a fine weekend with a second victory.

That means Shedden leads the drivers’ championship but the top four are separated by 61 points.

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