Neal and Shedden optimistic over 2011 chances
31 March 2011 – Honda Racing duo Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are gearing up for the start of the 2011 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend, with both drivers feeling confident over their chances of performing well. After enjoying a strong pre-season testing campaign with the new turbocharged Honda Civic, expectations are high at the Pershore-based squad.
"We have a new engine to get to grips with but other teams and drivers have new combinations to get used to as well," Neal commented. "We have undergone a very successful testing programme but you never know exactly how hard rivals have pushed so it’s impossible to say how we’ll match up to them in the first qualifying session of the season on Saturday at Brands (Hatch).
"All we know is that we have concentrated on our own car and our own performance and we are very pleased with where we are at in terms of the set-ups we’re likely to use. With any new engine, it’s going to take a bit of time to get the maximum out of it but I think we are in a position to collect a healthy haul of points this weekend and get the championship ball rolling."
Team-mate Shedden added: "We know from last season that the chassis was very strong and fitting the new turbo engine has given us more power so on paper we should be in a better position than last year. We still have work to do and it’s going to be interesting to see how the extra power affects everybody’s race pace.
"More torque is going to mean more tyre wear as the races go on, so that could cause a few surprises. The Honda Racing Team has worked incredibly hard on the handling of the car and I think we’ll see the benefit of that when the chequered flag drops on Sunday afternoon."