Honda Racing Team drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden will be back on the victory trail in the second meeting of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park this weekend.
Neal won a race at the opening meeting of the year at Brands Hatch two weeks ago with the reworked Civic, which is now fitted with a two-litre turbocharged engine, while Shedden scored a second place in race two. The Scotsman is in fourth place in the race for the crown, just ahead of Neal.
Shedden, 32, says that further upgrades to the Civic have filled him with confidence ahead of rounds four, five and six on Sunday. “We’re in good shape,” he explains. “Brands was the first time we had run the car in race conditions and it proved very strong.
“The team has learned an awful lot about the car over the two weeks since Brands and we have some new tweaks coming for Donington Park to further improve the suspension. We have the power and if we can fine-tune the handling there’s no reason why we can’t win more than one race this weekend.
“I love Donington Park and I have traditionally gone well there,” he adds. “It’s an old school circuit with undulations and fast, flowing corners which play to the strengths of the excellent handling of the Civic. I’m raring to go.”
Neal was bumped off the road in the first round at Brands Hatch but later opened Honda’s winning account with a stunning victory in the third race of the weekend. The former double champion says that scoring points early on in the year is going to be vital to mount a title campaign.
“We need to make hay while we can,” said Neal, 44. “The turbocharged engine is very strong, but when the weather gets hotter in the middle of the season it’s going to be tougher for us. More heat means there will be extra demands on the brakes and tyres, so we need to capitalise when we can. Donington Park will be a good circuit for us, although there are still some unknowns with the new car because this is a new project for us.”
Neal became the third most successful driver ever in the British Touring Car Championship with his 37th career win at Brands Hatch two weeks ago but says that he isn’t interested in the record books – only what lays ahead.
“It is a nice thing to have that many first places but every win is as special as the first one,” he explains. “Taking victory at Brands Hatch in race three felt very sweet but it’s just another step towards taking the drivers’, manufacturers’ and teams’ championships this season. That is all I really care about.”
The first of the weekend’s three races kicks off at 11.35am on Sunday and the entire day’s action will be shown live on ITV4. Fans can also follow Honda Racing on Facebook and Twitter for news and race results as the action happens –www.facebook.com/HondaRacingBTCC andwww.twitter.com/hondaracingbtcc