Q&A with Honda Touring Car Driver Matt Neal
During Synchro Motorsport’s victory at Spa Francorchamps, we caught up with Honda Touring Car Driver, Matt Neal. The three-time BTCC Champion talked about the new Type R, the 2018 touring car season, and let us in on a few of his pre-race superstitions.
What was your favourite moment of the 2018 BTCC season?
The most special moment this year was probably grabbing pole at Thruxton. Its always been a strong circuit for Honda, bit like a home Grand Prix as it’s the closest we race to where the Civic is built in Swindon. We smashed the lap record to steal pole position, so I was pretty chuffed for an old boy!
Do you have a pre-race routine?
I am annoyingly superstitious! I have lots of routines all weekend, from what I wear and what I eat, to when I do certain things and how I get in the car. I would like to say I’m not a creature of habit, but we all have our routines which help put our heads in a good place. If I listed mine, you’d be reading a book!
You drive an FK8 Type R as your day-to-day car, how do you find the Swindon-built car?
I can honestly say it is the best I’ve ever driven. For delivery of power, comfort of cabin and outside looks. When I describe it to people I say “it has Porsche performance but people still let you out at junctions!”
You have had a successful career in British Touring Cars, what would you love your next racing venture to be?
There’s plenty of things you think you might have missed out on, like Le Mans for me, but on the flip side I’ve had a pretty good run at it so can’t complain.
As for next adventure… I’m into extreme sports so will have a go at most things. I use the saying ‘you don’t stop laughing as you grow old, but grow old if you stop laughing’, so I try and make sure I make the best of wherever life takes me and any opportunity I’m lucky enough to get.
Is endurance racing something you’d consider in the future?
I have done a bit over my career, and more recently with the Honda of the UK Manufacturing Synchro Motorsport team this year. It’s been fun, they’re a great bunch so maybe yeah.
What are the key changes to racing style between the BTCC and 24H Series races?
BTCC is hard, brutal racing! Short, sharp, intense, no holes barred, no friends made! Whilst endurance is looking after your equipment and looking out for your mates, respecting the competition and managing the race with different strategies which is a different challenge but good fun... bar only getting about 2-3hrs sleep a night in 24hr races!
Spa was your second race with Synchro Motorsport this season, what do you enjoy about racing with the HUM-based team?
The Synchro team are all volunteers from the Swindon plant. They are a super bunch of people to spend time with; dedicated to racing, doing their best, and all very passionate about the Honda products they build, develop and race.
Your first Creventic 24H Series trophy, will you be featuring for Synchro Motorsport again next year?
We already have the 2019 dates and amazingly, there are no conflicts between BTCC and Synchro’s 24H series. Albeit, I’m yet to see WTCR calendar yet, which I have potential punditry commitments with Eurosport. Nevertheless, it would be a craic to be asked again, yes definitely.
Synchro Motorsport launch Driver Academy
Alyn James, Team Principal and Driver for Synchro Motorsport, brings you the latest developments from the Synchro Driver Academy.
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Synchro Take Class Win at Spa Francorchamps
Synchro Motorsport claim ‘first in class’ at Creventic’s 12H Spa, securing them second place in the A3 Class Championship.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Swindon-built Civic Type R Sets Fifth and Final Lap Record of Civic Type R Challenge 2018
In the fifth and final of a planned series of lap record attempts across Europe in 2018, Honda has set a new 2min 10.19sec record at the Hungaroring GP circuit in Hungary.
Monday, August 6, 2018
Honda Civic Type R sets new lap record at Estoril circuit in Portugal
In the fourth instalment of the Type R Challenge, Tiago Monteiro sets a new front-wheel drive record at Estoril in Portugal.