Gordon Shedden admitted that ‘fine gains’ will give Halfords Yuasa Racing a strong platform to begin the Scot’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title defence in 2017.
Shedden clinched a hard-fought third BTCC crown in 2016 by just two points from Sam Tordoff, meaning he would tie Andy Rouse should he go on to collect a record fourth title.
The Dynamics outfit also unveiled its new livery for the coming season at Birmingham’s NEC Arena during day one of the Autosport International Show on 12 January, Shedden telling The Checkered Flag he is eager to get his title defence underway.
“It’s nice [for the car] to be black because Honda are doing a new edition Type-R for the last 100 production cars, so it’s nice to have something a little bit different and to mix it up”, the reigning champion told TCF.
“Some cars will be really good in one place and others at another, but I think TOCA have done a great job.
“More now have the opportunity to win than ever in touring cars and there’s a real good blend of good teams and good people coming through.”
2017 will also see the Honda squad enter without a change of machinery, rather a Civic Type-R carrying a wealth of developments to aid the Scot and team-mate Matt Neal in their bid for what would be a fourth BTCC title for either if triumphant come October.
Although not convinced of any significant ‘transformations’ in performance for cars down the grid due to stability in the regulations, Shedden admitted that Honda will be in better shape this season than at this stage in 2016.
On gains made, he hinted: “Quite a lot. There’s definitely been a wishlist as last year went on of what we can tidy up and what can be made a little bit better.
“It’s the fine gains. I think this is the first time in six or seven years that we’ve actually had the same car essentially, so this is great to have had a winter to develop a car rather than jump in another one.
On the topic of top-end performance, an area of improvement for the team, Shedden added “I think we certainly learned a lot as it went on, but I don’t think we were far away at the end of last season.
“It’s a very different technology with this engine. But, there will be more manufacturers that come out with this kind of engine with the integrated manifolds, so we all need to understand it.
“It should be absolutely fine. We’ve got a happy balance and what everyone wants is to have a fair crack.”
Shedden said that consistency ultimately was key to his third BTCC crown in 2016, recalling a remarkable recovery from at one stage trailing by a gaping 52 points at the halfway stage of the season.
“We all stumbled, but I got more of my bad luck out of the way at the start of the season and that came together all at the right point. You’ve only got to be leading at the end!”
Fans can catch a glimpse of the new Civic Type-R livery across the remaining days of the Autosport International Show between 13-15 January.