For the first time in 18 years, the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) will be returning to Oulton Park this weekend (June 7th and 8th). So Honda Yuasa Racing is getting ready for the new challenge that their Civic Tourers will face.
Getting behind the wheels of their two racing cars will be Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden. This season the two drivers have had a total of nine podium finishes and two race wins, which means that this race could be a promising one for Honda.
It has been five weeks since their last race at Thruxton, where Neal took second place in the first race and fourth in the second while Shedden came third in the first race and then went on to win the second.
Only two drivers in the BTCC have ever raced at Oulton Park before, Neal being one of them, so no doubt they will be hoping that their experience will pay off.
Talking about the track at Oulton Park, which he described as a mini Nurburgring Nordschleife, Neal said: “I’ve had mixed fortunes there in the past, but the first team I ever raced for was based in Rochdale, so it was my home test circuit when I was cutting my teeth in circuit racing and I covered a lot of miles round there which have left me with some fond memories.”
He has said he is excited to return to the track and says that there will be plenty more opportunities to explain the chassis on the Honda Civic Tourer on the international circuit. This is because there are more corners and braking zones that the team can use.
Neal said that although the team is still working on the car, it is improving all the time. After Thruxton, he believes that they turned a corner with the Civic Tourer and its handling has been getting better all the time.
He hopes that the improvements to the car that have been made so far will be felt throughout the rest of the BTCC season, particularly as competition is closing in considerably and the gaps between positions is getting especially tight.
Indeed, Shedden is hoping to take the top spot as he is currently sitting in second place of the overall drivers’ standings. Last year he came within seven points of taking the title and his campaign is already going better so far in 2014.
Speaking about how he expects performance to pan out with the car from Honda, Shedden said: “We’ve tried a lot out on the Civic Tourer; some of those ideas have worked whilst others haven’t. We still need to extract a little bit more performance, but we’ve been pretty strong round Oulton in the past and even with the ballast, I’d still expect us to be well inside the top ten.”
He is looking forward to racing at Oulton Park because of its atmosphere and the volume of fans that he expects will turn up. Shedden added that it is not clear how the race is going to pan out as the full layout of the track is new to the vast majority of drivers that will be taking part.
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