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"Frankenstein" Subaru could be "death" of NGTC, warns Neal

Three-time BTCC champion Matt Neal has warned that the fast-developing Subaru Levorg of Team BMR could spell the demise of the championship's NGTC ruleset.

"Frankenstein" Subaru could be "death" of NGTC, warns Neal
Colin Turkington, Subaru Team BMR
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics
Pole sitter Colin Turkington, Subaru Team BMR
Colin Turkington, Subaru Team BMR
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics
Matt Neal, Team Dynamics

Honda had a nightmare weekend at Croft, with just one top-10 finish between the team’s drivers Neal and Gordon Shedden, while the BMWs and Subarus of West Surrey Racing and Team BMR controlled the pace, only hampered when the rain played into the Triple Eight MG team’s favour in Race 3.

The Subaru of Colin Turkington won Race 1 and finished third in Race 2.

Despite the team missing a round at Thruxton after a slow start at Brands Hatch and Donington Park, the rear-wheel drive, boxer-engined Levorg GT has been the fastest car since its return at Oulton Park.

Turkington is now 11th in the points, 68 shy of championship leader Sam Tordoff, and Neal thinks the pace shown by the Ulsterman means he will be in the thick of the fight by the end of the season.

“[Turkington] will be there at the end of the year, if not winning it,” said Neal. "That car is the death of these regulations because whatever they do, they can’t slow it enough.

"It’s too good around the corners because of what they’ve allowed it. [It] will be unstoppable, or we’ve all got to spend £100k on our cars and try and do the same. That car is Frankenstein."

Neal compared the success of the Subaru to previous benchmark BTCC cars that gained a big advantage through clever exploitation of the rules, such as the 1994 'homologation special' Alfa Romeo 155 or the 1996 Audi A4, which boasted four-wheel drive.

"I have nothing against the team, fair play to them," added Neal. "But it’s just like the Audi with four-wheel drive, it’s like the Alfa with the wings and the diffs. It’s the thin end of the wedge.”

Honda could make RWD switch

The Levorg GT, as with all Subarus, is four-wheel drive in its road-going configuration, but with four-wheel drive banned under the BTCC’s technical regulations, BMR has had to configure the car with rear-wheel drive.

Neal explained that a switch to rear-wheel drive is an option that has opened up for Honda, with the upcoming tenth-generation Civic model.

“The next Civic is a four-wheel drive car, so we can do it [switch to RWD]," he said. "That’s what [TOCA] have pushed the formula into."

Team Dynamics could make the switch to the new Civic as soon as next year, when the hatchback version of the Civic FC goes on sale.

“On current form, we’d have to change,” said Neal. “It’s been spoken about doing it next year, but that’s up to Honda.

"The new car comes out in January, but it’s whether we switch to the new Civic in 2017, or whether they want us to continue to promote the Type R.”

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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Series BTCC
Event Croft
Location Croft Circuit
Drivers Matt Neal
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