The Honda Racing Team pairing of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden have completed testing at three British tracks as they and them refine the off-season development to the Honda Civic.
After winning the manufacturers' title in 2010 the team will enter the 2011 with the same car and same experienced pair of drivers. The big change, however, is the engine as the winter saw the switch to a NGTC spec 2-litre turbocharged unit and it is the engine which has been the focus of the recent testing.
“The car has lots of potential,” explained double champion Neal. “The new turbo engine gives us lots of torque but it changes the characteristics of the car quite significantly in terms of the power delivery. I will have to adapt to that and the more testing laps we can do, the better it will be. I was happy with how we managed to run at Snetterton particularly.” The team also tested at Donington and Silverstone over the course of five days.
“It certainly requires a different driving technique to the car we had last season,” Shedden explained. “There are lots of new variables with the different weight distribution and the turbo but we have already seen that the Civic has got massive potential.”
As well as giving the drivers time to adapt to the performance of the new engine the team used the tests to try a variety of set-ups on the car to assess the revamped car. “[the car] has reacted exactly as we expected it to,” said Neal. “It is encouraging but we still need to do more running to fully understand the car.”
The team continue their testing program at the championship's media day on March 24 before the first race weekend of the year on April 2-3.