Victories are the target for Honda Yuasa Racing Team stars Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Oulton Park this weekend.
Shedden and Neal are second and third respectively in the BTCC standings, with Shedden’s NGTC Civic having scored four wins in the last two meetings.
It’s been a long six-week gap since the last round at Thruxton, but the Honda team hasn’t been standing still. Both Shedden and Neal believe progress has been made with the car, which should offset the advantage of extra turbo boost that has been handed to most of their rivals thanks to the series’ rules.
“It could be a tough weekend, but Oulton has historically been very strong for us,” said Shedden, who won with the old Civic at the Cheshire venue last year. “It’s a circuit where Honda has gone very well in the past.
“The way the rules are at the moment, we’re squeezed pretty tight on the boost, so we have to work the chassis extra hard to keep the results going. It’s a constant evolution and we’ve just got to keep trying to make the car better because if we stand still we’ll go backwards fairly quickly.”
Shedden, who is just four points off the lead in the drivers’ table, is also a fan of the track. “Oulton is actually one of my favourite circuits and one of my happiest hunting grounds,” he added. “I’ve won most years I’ve been there. It’s a real old-school circuit and I like the undulations, blind turns and big-commitment corners.
“Obviously it’s our first time to Oulton with the NGTC Civic and I think it will be very close, so we’ll have to be on top of our game, but if we are, we should be able to compete at the front and hopefully be on the podium.”
Neal is also looking forward to Oulton, despite the error he made there last year when he made contact with Shedden on the last lap of race two.
“The first team I raced for was based in Rochdale, so Oulton was the local circuit that I cut my teeth on – it’s got a lot of good memories for me, though last year’s clash with Flash was a low point!” he said.
“Oulton is a great circuit and should suit our car. I think it’s going to be a hard weekend for us with the boost adjustments that have been made, but it’s a handling circuit, which should suit the Honda.
“We had a good test at Pembrey last week, making small steps forward optimising the NGTC regs, which is an ongoing thing. We found a little something on Flash’s car at Thruxton, which was an improvement, and we tried some other things we’ve been working on for the last six or eight weeks that have got to a point now where we can use them – and they were positive.”