Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are predicted a tough fight during the upcoming BTCC race weekend at the Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire.
The team, who run the Civics for double champion Neal and rapid Scotsman Shedden, showed that the upgrades made to the car over the winter have paid off as they showed true pace round the fast, flowing Thruxton airfield track.
Looking ahead to rounds four, five and six at Rockingham, Neal thinks he should be able to climb the Championship standings from his current sixth position. The Droitwich based forty three year old said: “We know we have a quick car with the Civic and we've learned some lessons from the opening rounds at Thruxton which means we have more knowledge of the car. But Rockingham is a very tough circuit because it has a flat out stretch and that leads on to a twisty infield section. It always promotes close racing because the layout means that no one type of car will have a huge advantage anywhere. The BMWs will be strong, the Chevrolets will be quick and our Honda will be right in heart of the fight.”
For 'Flash' Shedden, Thruxton saw a weekend of disappointment. Having qualified on pole for the opening race of the day, a puncture during race one meant he was fighting his way back up the field during the rest of the day means that he heads to the Northamptonshire track eighth in the Championship standings. He said: “It's a track I like, I have won there before and I have also been on pole position there with the Civic. That was when we were just starting out with the car and it is a lot better now, so that makes me think we'll be in a strong position to rack up our first win of the year.”
Steve Neal, Honda Racing Team Team Boss reckons that the work done back at base should make the Civic an even more competitive proposition: “We've made huge strides with the development of the car's suspension and every time we go on the track we are learning new things about how it handles, We will be using the information we learned in the opening meeting to give us an even better Honda Civic at Rockingham. I am optimistic.”
The race fans will also have the chance to get close to Neal and Shedden during the 'A Question of Motorsport live' event at Marshall Honda in Peterborough. The event will take place after qualifying on Saturday starting at 6.30pm.
The dealer principal of Marshall Honda Peterborough, Phil Lewin added: “We're thrilled to have this event taking place in the dealership. Just like on the race track, neither Matt nor Gordon will want to give an inch. Hopefully it will be neck and neck all the way to the chequered flag!”
Photo credit: Vince Pettit Photography