Vauxhall can today announce it has signed double Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion (BTCC), Matt Neal, to drive for the marque’s works team, VX Racing, in 2008.
Neal, who has yet to sample the Vauxhall Vectra, says he was enticed by the car’s dominant performance in this year’s championship, as it won the manufacturers and drivers titles with Fabrizio Giovanardi taking an unrivalled ten victories.
“I’ve always tried to make the best decision for my career at the time,” said Neal, who has been racing for family-run outfit, Team Halfords since 2004. “The last few years have been fantastic with Halfords. We’ve had two championships but life is about new challenges and goals and I see Vauxhall as something different and the prospects of the Vectra look very good for 2008.”
Neal has been one of Vauxhall’s greatest rivals over the years, bringing the manufacturer’s four-year domination to an end in 2005 by becoming the first none-Vauxhall driver to win the BTCC driver title since 2000.
“We’ve been very impressed by Matt’s approach over the years,” said VX Racing’s Brand Manager Stuart Harris. “He’s been a great ambassador for the sport with his clean, progressive racing, and we’re delighted to add him to the squad.”
Neal is familiar with Vauxhall’s operational staff after driving for the manufacturer’s second team, Egg Sport, in 2002 winning three races and finishing third overall.
“I’ve always admired VX Racing as a good professional team with a friendly atmosphere,” said Neal. “Racing against them, they were annoyingly consistent! When they were running the all-conquering Astras in the early 2000s, it was tough because they would be knocking in the results day-in-and-day-out!”
Neal will partner Giovanardi at VX Racing, after it was recently announced the Italian has signed for his third season with the Vauxhall works team. “I’m going into it wanting to do the best job,” said Neal. “I want to win races and championships but if I can’t do the latter I will do my utmost to aid my team-mate along the way. I’m a team player and always have been.”