Honda Yuasa Racing Team stars Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal will be aiming to extend their points advantage as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Croft this weekend.
A clean sweep of all three race at Oulton Park earlier this month moved Shedden and Neal into first and second places respectively in the drivers’ standings. With the squad also leading the teams’ and manufacturers’ contests, Honda looks well placed to carry an edge into the long summer break after Croft.
Shedden, who currently leads team-mate Neal by five points, believes the North Yorkshire venue should be a strong one for the NGTC Civic, despite the extra boost available to rivals due to the series’ equalisation rules and the success ballast both cars will carry.
“Croft has got a real mix of everything, from very fast corners to I think the slowest corner we go to, the hairpin, so it’s hard to get a balance,” said the 33-year-old. “It’s still very much a handling circuit so we should be strong.
“I think it’ll be another tough weekend, but the weather could play a big part and that could play into our hands because it negates the weight disadvantage.”
Neal agrees the Civic should be competitive and is a fan of the circuit. “I love it and have ever since it was re-opened,” said the triple champion. “It’s not for the faint-hearted and you really need big commitment in the fast corners. The way I do it is to make the car good in the slow corners and just hang on in the quick stuff!
“We’re both high on weight, but it’s a handling circuit and that’s the strength of the Civic. The forecast of rain is good for us because we were quick in the wet at Thruxton [earlier in the season].”
It is looking increasingly likely that the 2012 MSA Dunlop British Touring Car crown will go to Shedden, Neal or their arch-rival Jason Plato, but the Honda men still plan to help each other.
“We’ll just work together,” confirmed Shedden. “It’s hard for Jason to deal with both of us, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Collard and Mat Jackson are in contention come the end of the year, and I’m sure Andrew Jordan will put a weekend together soon.”
Neal, who pipped Shedden to the 2011 crown as Honda dominated the BTCC, agrees. “We’ve just got to get all the points we can,” he said.
“It’d be nice to go into the break with one of us leading the championship. If I can’t win it I want Gordon to.”