Matt Neal said Halfords Yuasa Racing has to be optimistic at Donington Park, after his opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship weekend ‘unravelled’ at Brands Hatch.
Both of the new Dynamics-run Honda Civic Type-Rs showed strong pace in qualifying, Neal sixth while rookie Dan Cammish settled for fourth despite having a lap record-breaking effort removed for a pitlane indiscretion.
Neal’s weekend was dented significantly in the weekend’s opening race, removed from action by steering damage in contact with Sam Tordoff and Matt Simpson on the opening lap.
A gamble on slick tyres from the pitlane then failed to pay off in race two, as the Civic struggled for grip in the wet conditions early on.
Recovering from 29th to 12th in the final race of the day, Neal admitted that although the car is not up to speed in damp conditions, Honda has more potential to succeed at Donington in three weeks’ time.
“My weekend obviously unravelled in race one”, Neal bemoaned.
“I tried to do something a little off-piste in race two but it was a struggle, which was compounded by getting knocked around a bit for good measure. We at least made up 17 places in race three, which demonstrated the potential of the new Civic Type R, and there are a lot of reasons for optimism moving forward.
“The car seems to be quick in the dry, the engine is working well and Dan is clearly very fast – for us to both be inside the top six in qualifying with a car that has far from achieved its full potential yet is very encouraging.
“We still have some work to do in wet trim, but it’s a new car so that’s only to be expected and one of the biggest positives about the FK8 is its aerodynamics and lack of drag; when we get to the longer circuits where it can stretch its legs a bit, that should really pay dividends.
“It’s extremely early days and there’s plenty more to come. Better yet, we are going to be light at Donington, so hopefully we can fight back on home turf.”
Team-mate Cammish netted results of eighth, 16th and 11th, coming away with Jack Sears Trophy honours in the first race.