Neal looks to push Plato all the way at Donington
Saturday 18 September 2010
Jason Plato's chief title rivals have heaped the pressure on the series leader ahead of this weekend's ninth round of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.
The Silverline Chevrolet driver enjoys a 20-point lead over Honda Racing's Matt Neal heading into tomorrow's penultimate round but, with three races on the card, that margin could be quickly eradicated were Plato to hit trouble.
Neal himself holds just a four-point advantage over Aon Ford's Tom Onslow-Cole, with the pair heading a list of seven drivers who could still mathematically deny Plato his first BTCC title since 2001.
Few expect the 2010 champion to come from outside the current top three, however, and Neal admits he has to go all out for the victories this weekend to stay in the hunt.
"Someone asked me what I've got left and the simple answer is I've got nothing to lose. It's totally Jason's to lose, whereas if I crash out or it doesn't work then I have lost nothing," Neal said. "At the minute I'm second – first of the losers. As far as I'm concerned I'm going to these final two events with the same approach as if I were starting the season from afresh.
"I can't not go for it so there'll be no settling for points finishes."
Onslow-Cole is taking a similar approach to the weekend as he bids to keep a lid on the "manageable" lead Plato holds at present.
"With six races to go, 24 points is a manageable target but I can't afford to leave Donington that far behind," he said. "I have simply got to gain ground on him to be in with a shout at Brands Hatch. This is really a make-or-break weekend."
Neal expects the leading Ford driver to be comfortably up there with the front-runners this weekend, and concedes he will have his hands full trying to deny his nearest rivals a healthy points haul.
"I think the Fords have got something in their back pockets," Neal said. "They will be strong at Donington but they will be even stronger at Brands and Jason, I'm sure, is going to be quick everywhere.
"For both of them to mess up I am going to have to put them under pressure so that leaves me with no option but to go on maximum attack."
This weekend's races mark the return of Donington to the mainstream motorsport calendar following the circuit's failed bid to host the British Grand Prix.
The East Midlands track had been left unusable as a result of unfinished construction work but recently re-opened after new owners took over the lease in May.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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