NEAL TIPPING GIOVANARDI FOR OULTON PARK GLORY Series leader Matt Neal believes Vauxhall team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi will be the man to beat in round four of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire...
NEAL TIPPING GIOVANARDI FOR OULTON PARK GLORY
Series leader Matt Neal believes Vauxhall team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi will be the man to beat in round four of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire this Sunday (31 May).
The Italian is currently equal third in the standings after a topsy-turvy start to the 2009 season. He suffered two non-scores in the season-opener at Brands Hatch, bounced back with a win and a second at Thruxton but was only once on the podium at Donington Park.
Neal, meanwhile, has finished in the points in all nine races so far, including seven top three results. Team RAC's Colin Turkington might be his nearest challenger, but it is Giovanardi - 22 points adrift - who Neal fears most heading to Oulton.
Worcestershire's Neal said: "I think Fabrizio is pretty fired up at the moment. Whenever he's been to Oulton Park before his car has been very heavy on success ballast and he's still been able to wring the car's neck and get results around there.
"This time he'll be that little bit lighter on ballast. When he gets fired up he doesn't get ragged, he just digs deeper and is a supreme performer. He'll bounce back."
Neal knows he will need to keep on top of his game at Oulton as the level of competition intensifies - currently the BTCC is at its most competitive in over a decade with half the grid made up proven race-winners, among them four past champions. This season's first nine races alone have been won by seven different drivers.
He added: "I predict I'm going to have my hands full this weekend and I'm also wary that it only takes one race for to all suddenly turn around. Oulton promotes close and exciting racing and at the minute there are seven or eight drivers who could genuinely win the title and a fair few more who have also shown they can win races.
"It's also a circuit that traditionally draws one of our biggest crowds of the year. There's so much going on for the spectators - they can see so much and there's a great atmosphere."
Free Admission for Children
Admission to see the BTCC's latest three races at Oulton Park this Sunday is GBP23.00 per adult and free for children aged 12 and under. Tickets can be booked online at www.oultonpark.co.uk and include access to the BTCC race paddock and the specially-organised Pit Lane Walkabout when the public is invited into the pit lane to meet the BTCC's star drivers for autographs, photos and plenty of give-aways.
Adding to the entertainment, there will be a further six races from the supporting Ginetta, Porsche and Renault championships.