Honda Racing Team drivers Matt Neal and Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden are eager to continue their dominant form as the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship blasts back into life at Snetterton in Norfolk this weekend.
The Civic duo are first and third in the drivers’ points standings at the halfway point of the year and are aiming to stretch further away from the competitive field over the remaining 15 rounds.
Both drivers took part in a test session at Donington Park recently to check out revisions to the two-litre turbocharged machine and say they are keen to get back into the heat of battle.
Neal explains: “Our Civic is one of the best handling cars on the grid, but you can always keep refining things and that is what we did at the test. We were chipping away at the suspension settings trying to find an extra edge. Although there has been a seven-week break in the championship, our team never stands still in the quest to make the Civic even stronger.”
A rule change from the championship bosses will peg back Neal’s and Shedden’s cars and force them to run with less turbo boost pressure this weekend but Neal says that the homework done by the team should keep the car at the front.
“We have yet again been held back for doing a good job so far this year, which seems unfair,” said Neal. “But we can only make sure that we have the handling and the speed to overcome this handicap. I am confident that we will perform.”
The Snetterton circuit has been completely remodelled since last season and now features a new three-mile configuration with a demanding infield section. ‘Flash’ Gordon says that the challenge will be ramped up for everyone.
“It is like going to a totally new track,” says Flash. “It has new sections that are twisty, but there are still the long straights and they will play into our hands.”
“My prime target is to cut the gap to Matt at the top of the points standings. The championship has been so tight and competitive this season and we have already seen that it can alter dramatically over the course of any given weekend. If I can leave Snetterton having narrowed the gap to Matt and made Honda one-two in the drivers’ points, then I will be happy.”