Ominously for the rest of the British Touring Car field Gordon Shedden believes the Honda Racing Team outfit begin the second round of the championship at Donington Park in a better position than the season opener – a weekend when the team scored pole, a win and Shedden pulled off one of the performances of the meeting with the help of the Civic's startling pace.
“Brands was the first time we had run the car in race conditions and it proved very strong,” said the Scot, who believes the fast flowing curves of an “old school” Donington Park will suit the Civic.
“The team has learned an awful lot about the car over the two weeks since Brands and we have some new tweaks coming for Donington Park to further improve the suspension. We have the power and if we can fine-tune the handling there's no reason why we can't win more than one race this weekend.”
Teammate Matt Neal – who won the final race of the Brands Hatch event – puts extra emphasis on the early races of the season, where he sees a potential problem later in the summer. This is just as Honda's normally aspirated rivals are hoping to score well this weekend before the NGTC-spec machinery improves to an uncatchable level.
“We need to make hay while we can,” said Neal. “The turbocharged engine is very strong, but when the weather gets hotter in the middle of the season it's going to be tougher for us. More heat means there will be extra demands on the brakes and tyres, so we need to capitalise when we can. Donington Park will be a good circuit for us, although there are still some unknowns with the new car because this is a new project for us.”
“It is a nice thing to have that many first places but every win is as special as the first one,” he adds. “Taking victory at Brands Hatch in race three felt very sweet but it's just another step towards taking the drivers', manufacturers' and teams' championships this season. That is all I really care about.”