Matt Neal eager to resume British Touring Car rivalry with Jason Plato

Matt Neal says he hopes to hit the ground running in his bid to defend his British Touring Car title in 2012 - and that he wants chief rival Jason Plato on the grid

Matt Neal eager to resume British Touring Car rivalry with Jason Plato

Plato and Neal became the best of enemies following several controversial moments in 2011, including the now famous confrontation at Rockingham.

Neal, joined by Plato and his Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden in a lively and convivial three-way on the AUTOSPORT International stage, conceded that the regulations had played his way in 2011 as he beat both men to secure a third BTCC crown.

He said the situation could change this year however, particularly as his Honda Racing squad will be introducing a new Civic.

"We were in a great car and we had the regulations with us with the turbo engines," Neal said, "but it will probably be a different case this year.

"We've had a great car under us for the last couple of years, it was just the regulations suited what we were running.

"Me and 'Flash' [Shedden] worked well together and all the balls fell into the right holes. It ran really well, we had a good year but it didn't always go the right way - like at Oulton Park, where Jason won.

"We've got a new Civic built to the new NGTC regulations, which is a new thing for us. If it goes half as well as it looks then it should be fantastic, but never know with new car.

"We hope to hit the ground running. I don't know what Jason is up to but hopefully he'll be there too."

Plato said he could take several positives away from 2011 despite the regulations controversy, and stated his aim to be on the grid in 2012.

"If I'm honest there was an awful lot of enjoyment last year in spells," he explained. "It was great to win eight races but we were well and truly beaten, that's the fact of it. Sometimes things go in your favour and sometimes they don't - like Matt said the balls were rolling in his pocket and they weren't in ours.

"Matt and Gordon got the right kit, we didn't - we didn't go turbo because we were promised there would be parity, which just simply wasn't the case. It was very difficult for the organisers to understand just how much performance these guys had in their back pocket, but had I been in their shoes I would have done exactly the same thing. Team Honda did a fantastic job last year and beat everybody, including the organisers.

"I'll make no bones about it though: I want to be out there. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't, but I love it. If there is any opportunity for me to be out there I want it, and I look forward to having further dust-ups with these two reprobates."

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