Currently reading: Seven BTCC champions: Matt Neal
As the 2014 BTCC season approaches, we talk to each of the seven former champions competing this year. Today Matt Neal says why this year's champion will be one of the all-time greats

British Touring Car Championship racer Matt Neal says that whoever wins this season’s competition can lay claim to being one of the best tin-top racers in the world.

The Honda Yuasa Racing star, who will handle a brand new Honda Civic Tourer in this year’s competition, says that the British series can stand out this season with its packed grids and seven champions on the entry list.

“When you look at it, with 31 cars on the grid, it is the biggest touring car grid in the world in terms of numbers and the number of different makes that are out there,” said Neal. “It is bigger than Australian V8s and it is bigger than the World Touring Car Championship. The regulations must be doing something right to attract that kind of competition.”

Neal will be racing the brand new Honda Civic Tourer, which he says has made strides towards the ultimate pace during its recent development and he is raring to go when the series kicks off at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

“We are in a much better place than we were a month back,” said Neal. “We turned a corner in a test at Brands a couple of weeks ago and that was really positive. The car has still got a couple of quirky little things about it in terms of its handling. It is trickier to drive, but there are positive points.”

Neal, who has been in the championship since 1991, said that he was delighted that there were so many other champions on the grid. 

“The champions are just other cars to beat but I have raced against them before,” says Neal. “When I raced against Menu, he was in a factory Ford and I was in a privateer car, but now the tables have turned and I am the one with the factory car! I could beat him on my day, and I am sure he will be able to beat me on his day.

"It is fun, I like the old champions coming back because it is friendly old faces and the banter is straight there. It is old mates getting together, and importantly, it is great for the championship.”

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