• Team hoping to continue strong track record at Donington
• Drivers spying further silverware with striking Civic Type R
• Neal and Team Dynamics hoping to play home advantage
Honda Yuasa Racing duo Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are ready to go wheel-to-wheel with their Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rivals on ‘home’ turf at Donington Park next weekend (18/19 April) – following a sensational start at Brands Hatch.
Five days ago, Neal and Shedden claimed a victory apiece in the 2015 curtain-raiser – the former’s 54th in his 25th season in the series and the latter incredibly prevailing around the short Indy Circuit for the first time in his career.
The result celebrated the striking new Civic Type R’s tin-top debut in fine style – several months before the production model hits the road – and maintained Honda’s proud tradition of enjoying ‘first day successes’ with new racing versions of its Civic hatchback, having similarly conquered with previous incarnations in 2007 and 2012.
Donington is the local track for Honda’s BTCC technical partner, Team Dynamics, and home hero Neal made history there back in 1999 when he became the first independent driver ever to win a BTCC race outright – an outstanding achievement in the world’s most fiercely-contested tin-top series. The three-time champion has since added five more Donington triumphs to his tally, and heads into the second outing of the campaign at the top of the championship standings.
Shedden, meanwhile, is the most successful driver of the modern era around the Leicestershire circuit, with eight victories to his credit. Like his team-mate, the Scot also re-wrote the record books there when he clinched a milestone maiden win for an estate-style car in the BTCC 12 months ago, stealing a famous last-gasp thriller in the Civic Tourer. He travels to Donington sitting fifth in the classification, just five points adrift of the top of the table.
“It’s fair to say that our results at Brands Hatch massively exceeded expectations, but that doesn’t change our approach going forward and we remain very realistic in what is already shaping up to be a tremendously competitive BTCC season. We may have won two of the first three races, but we’re not resting on our laurels – we know we still have a lot of areas to work on with this car and a lot of potential to unlock. As championship leader, I’ll have maximum success ballast in qualifying and race one, but I always said I’d rather carry the extra weight if it means I’ve got points in the bag. The racing was pretty topsy-turvy at Brands Hatch – and Donington promises more of the same. Expect the unexpected!”
“We’ve certainly got our tails up after Brands Hatch – that was a very timely boost, and a reward for all the hard work that everybody put in over the winter. Each time we take to the track, we are learning more. We’ve not had much testing in the Civic Type R yet, and we still have to find its sweet spot to make it truly fly – there are a lot of exciting things to try out on this car. It’s clearly going to be a very unpredictable season with the potential for surprises all the way through. Consistency will be vital – you almost need to keep racking up the points by stealth to make sure you are in with a shout at the end.”