Sport Grill’s latest guest is a BTCC legend and teammate to reigning champion, Gordon Shedden. Its the one and only Matt Neal.
Discover who his motorsport idols are, what he thinks of his year racing in ETCC either side of two BTCC stints and finally his thoughts on teammate, Gordon Shedden.
Neal: Either my dad or Nigel Mansell, he was a bit of a hero of mine. In touring cars, Steve Soper was the man. What I liked about all of them was that they were fighters, not always in the best car but giving their all.
Neal: I didn’t bounce very well and got to a level where I basically reached the limit of my ability.
My dad got me into cars simply to get me away from the bikes, after too many injuries but I’m still fond of bikes and like a ride out now and then but they’re still not too fond of me.
Neal: It was hard going midpack. How did I make the jump? Simple, I managed finally to get my hands on the right kit.
Early and mid 90s was incredibly unfair with a ‘them and us’ syndrome, that was very tough to keep your motivation knowing you had no chance no matter how good a job you did.
The occasion that I got in a good car with the right tyres, I was like wow so this is what I’ve been missing!
Neal: It was rough and I naively thought it would be something mega being a FIA championship. All it did was make me appreciate the organisation and rules of BTCC and learn how corrupt and disorganised so called top level championships can be.
Neal: It was a little surreal as having down trodden for so long, I never actually thought I’d make it. I was just chuffed to be racing and never thought I’d win races let alone a championship and then three, so it was almost like this isn’t happening.
Neal: Fabrizio was a class driver and wild man. The car had been developed around him and his driving style, which was very different to mine but I like to think working together, the combo of us took the whole thing forward and we had some good times in the progress.
Neal: Maybe it’s getting older that does it like Christmas becomes more about giving than receiving. I’ve not lost my desire to win but simply don’t feel so much pressure.
I’ve been lucky enough to win the title three times, I’ll fight him hard for another but if through speed or circumstance, it doesn’t work out then so be it and I still get a buzz from helping to make it happen as a teammate.
Neal: Very but I felt for him as I know how much he wanted it so a double edged sword but he made me pay for it since so I’m not too sympathetic now.
Neal: To look after myself and those around me. Do the best job that I can giving maximum for everyone involved with me and to enjoy the ride for as long as I can then hope either of my sons can just one day win a race in top flight racing and then my circle will be complete.