HONDA YUASA RACING TEAM
No.1 Matt Neal – No.52 Gordon Shedden
The Team Dynamics run but manufacturer backed Honda squad swept the 2011, taking the teams' and manufacturers' honours for themselves and giving Matt Neal his third drivers' title.
The key to any title defence will be how quickly the new full NGTC spec Civic can be brought up to the speed to win races and the reliability to do so on a regular basis. If that scenario sounds familiar it's more or less the same one that confronted the team this time last year after they dropped the turbocharged engine into their old car for the first time.
Provided the team can give them the car both Neal and Shedden – a man too often lost behind the noise of the Neal and Plato battles recent year – can end the season as champions. Honda have almost certainly the best two driver team on the grid a fact that should immediately put them as favourites to retain the teams' title.
But it all depends on the car.
Matt Neal onâ€¦.they key to success
“Developing is important, but reliability is key and consistency which is what we had with the old car. It's being there week in, week out. You're not going to always win because of the regs but we have to be there.”
Gordon Shedden onâ€¦..the new car
“It's totally different, it's a new concept, new rules and it just goes completely different. There's a few things we need to get our heads around but on the base of it the Civic platform's fantastic, it's just how we integrate the spec TOCA bits at the moment.”
“We're on a massive learning curve. Obviously with last year's car we were pretty much in the zone everywhere we went and we knew every change what it was going to do. With this we're very much into the unknown, finding out what makes the car's heart beat and we don't know if we're at the limit of what the car's capable of because we haven't been through the full range of movements on it.”