Honda Yuasa Racing British Touring Car Championship drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden both declared a positive direction in the performance of the team’s new Honda Civic Tourer, following a strong showing in the recent Donington Park official test.
The team continued testing of their new eye-catching Civic Tourer machine which has been racking up the mileage since February in the hands of their experienced drivers, both interloping the top six positions at the recent Donington Park Media Day test on Tuesday, 18 March.
2012 champion Shedden came within a minscule 0.001s of the four-hour session’s pace-setter, reigning champion Andrew Jordan, and said that the works Honda squad have made substantial progress since such testing began at Rockingham in February.
“So much work has gone on over the winter to try to replicate the heartbeat of the Civic hatchback, which has obviously been such a potent weapon and the BTCC benchmark for the past couple of years”, Shedden said.
“We ran the first Tourer back-to-back with the Civic hatchback, which was tremendously beneficial and provided us with some really interesting information.
“The Tourer is clearly a new engineering challenge, but as a manufacturer, Honda has always been prepared to go out there, try something different and really push the boat out. We’ve made huge progress from where we started with this car and now we’re starting to unlock its secrets – which is tremendously exciting for the year ahead.”
His team-mate Neal echoed the Scot’s plaudits of the newest Honda model that Shedden hailed could become ‘iconic’, and added that the challenging initial nature of the bulkier Tourer has become much more positive ahead of a season Neal already claims could be one of the most competitive in BTCC history.
“I’m confident we’ve turned a corner now and have rounded off a few of the sharp edges”, said triple BTCC champion Neal, who ended the rain-affected Donington test on Tuesday sixth overall.
“As with any new car, testing with the Tourer was challenging to begin with, and I was initially surprised by how different it felt to the Civic hatchback. That said, we’ve learnt a huge amount every time we’ve gone out and have made a lot of progress, which is really positive.
“As to Brands Hatch, obviously the opposition is looking pretty strong at the moment, and there are a huge number of drivers who are likely to be sparring up at the sharp end of the grid. It’s shaping up to be the most competitive season in BTCC history, and everybody in the field is going to have to fight like crazy just to make it into the points this year – which can only be good for the championship.”
The Honda pairing are two of seven champions on the grid for the 2014 season which gets underway at Brands Hatch on 29/30 March, and are two of a record 31-car line-up announced for the season opener.