Andy out to prove he’s handy behind the wheel with first British Touring Car victory at Silverstone

Andy Neate of Aylesbury

Andy Neate of Aylesbury

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Andy Neate believes he is close to taking his first victory in the British Touring Car Championship, ahead of this weekend’s races at Silverstone.

But first the 39 year old, who moved to Mentmore at the start of the year, knows he has to beat his double-champion team mate Jason Plato.

“He is a great team mate, without a doubt, he’s probably the best driver on the grid by a country mile frankly,” said Neate – who currently sits 17th in the championship, with his team mate in third.

“But he’s a good benchmark to have. You can learn a lot from him. He helps me out, he helps with the technique and what you can do. It’s good to see what the car can actually do.

“He does throw some fantastic laps in there somehow, and I’d be very surprised if there’s anyone else on the grid that can actually do the times that he does in the same car. But it’s great having him as a team mate.”

Neate, who made his Touring Car debut in 2005, signed to race alongside Plato in the MG KX Momentum Racing team when MG returned to the sport at the start of the season.

His maiden victory almost came at Croft, in the fifth of the 10 circuits in the BTCC calendar, until he was knocked sideways and fell back down the order.

“It’s there, I think it’s coming, we have got six races left so who knows,” said Neate.

The married father of two was born in London, but moved to Aylesbury when he was a baby.

“I do get a lot of support. I think BTCC is very popular,” he said.

“It’s the next best thing outside F1, so having a local champ in the championship does generate quite a bit of interest.

“I get quite a few people stop me in the street who ask me how it’s going and say they saw me on the TV.

“It’s a great championship to be in. It’s great to represent Aylesbury. All the support I get from Aylesbury is welcome. It’s nice to see that people watch me and hopefully it will continue.”

Looking ahead to the Silverstone races, Neate is expecting a damp start to Saturday practice but then for it to clear up and remain dry for the rest of the weekend.

He says since the last races in Rockingham the team have done some ‘positive testing’ and head into the penultimate race weekend at Silverstone feeling upbeat.

“I think it’s going to be tough with the boost restrictions that we have. As you know the championship has got this system of adjusting the boost levels to keep everyone on a even keel but I think we have got a good chassis and we did a bit of testing in between the last race and now, so yeah I think we’ve got a good chance.”

Between races, he works on his fitness - saying it plays a ‘key role’ in his preparation.

“With three races on a Sunday it takes it out of you,” he explains. “Especially when the temperatures start to get hot, we have a roof over us and three layers of clothing so it does get quite hot and you do lose quite a bit of weight in the car so fitness is important.”

Career wise, his aim is simple. Win. “I have set my sights on being in touring cars my whole career and I have achieved that so the next thing is to be a consistent race winner and then go for championships,” he said.

> Andy Neate was speaking to Bucks Herald reporter Andrew at BTCC event at the Daytona go karting race track in Milton Keynes to celebrate the launch of the circuit’s new 2012 Prokarts - featuring upgraded brakes and Bridgestone YDS Tyres. During the event, which saw lashing rain and reduced visibility, many of the stars of the BTCC raced against journalists from media outlets. Unfortunately Andrew failed to do the Herald proud, qualifying in 20th and finishing 18th - but saying he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and absolutely recommends the new-improved karts, having raced with the previous ones at the venue.