At the end of a historic maiden season for the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy, special acclaim must be handed to Henry Neal, who emerged as the series most successful driver.
Picking up an overall win at Brands Hatch and during the season finale from Donington Park, the Team Dynamics driver has been the class of the TCT field, regularly fighting at the sharp end of the grid in his Honda Civic Type R, famously driven by his father; BTCC driver, Matt Neal. In class, Neal has won five of the series ten races with victories coming at Oulton Park, Croft, Brands and Donington.
Continuing his dominance, Neal has been the top TCT driver at three of the five rounds, taking top honours at Croft, Brands Hatch and the season finale. Last time out, he was joined at Dynamics by his younger brother Will Neal, driving another Honda Civic Type R, as raced by father Matt the previous week. In the last race, the pair achieved a one-two in TCT, ending their maiden season on a high.
Beginning the year at Oulton Park, Neal immediately proved his credentials, collecting a pole position ahead of 2018 TCR UK vice-champion Ollie Taylor. He fell behind Taylor at the start before fighting back into winning contention in the closing laps. Contact would end both of their races earlier and forced them to start at the back. From there, Neal again proved his pedigree, fighting his way to second overall as the top TCT runner.
Moving onto the first Donington round in June, Neal secured fourth in the opening race, before chasing down one-off entrant Max Coates in the second race to under four seconds, setting the Fastest Lap of the weekend on his way to second. His success continued into Croft where, after having two lap times deleted in qualifying, he jumped from the fourth to second, finishing as the top TCT runner once again.
Brands would prove to be his most successful round, picking up second place overall in qualifying (as the top TCT competitor), before leapfrogging polesitter Nick Halstead for his maiden overall win, which he celebrated with father Matt. It was a special moment for Neal as he backed it up in race two with another overall podium, finishing again as the top TCT driver, one place above season-long rival Alex Day in the Audi A4 ‘Sherman’.
He would face stiff competition in the final, as BTCC’s Team HARD joined with their 2019-spec VW Passat’s. Despite this, Neal recorded his second overall pole of the year, only to be spun by Darelle Wilson in the opening race. Neal recovered to sixth overall, third in TCT behind two Passat’s, ensuring he went into the final race ballast free. He would end his year as he started; picking up the fastest lap, and the overall race win to end as the series most successful racer across both classes.
“I’m lucky to have been able to race my dad’s car this year and who knows what next year holds,” said Henry. “I’d love to be back in the Fk2 next year because I do love racing Touring Cars. Ever since I was a lad it’s all I’ve wanted to do, so it’s pretty special I get to do it now. I’ll take each year as it comes and we’ll see.”
Neal also ended the year with more overall points than any competitor in either class.
Source: Maximum motorsport