Matt Neal and Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden will be defending their lead in the MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship as the Honda Yuasa Racing Team heads to Snetterton this weekend.
After a long summer break, the duo will be making its second race visit to the 300 version of the Norfolk circuit, this time with the title-leading NGTC Honda Civics.
Despite being at the top of the table, the squad has been working hard over the break so that it can continue its fine run. Work has been ongoing with the chassis as the boost restrictions in the series are still limiting the Civic’s straightline speed.
“Our engines have been away for a check over and we’ve been tweaking bits and bobs,” says points leader and reigning champion Neal. “Everyone’s learning the NGTC package and we’ve had the best grip of it so far, and we’ve got a few new bits to try.”
The triple champion had a difficult time at Snetterton last year on his way to the title, but he still likes the new layout, which was used for the first time in the BTCC in 2011.
“We’ll get left on the straights at Snetterton, so we’ll have to work in the corners,” he said. “[MG driver and rival] Jason Plato will be there, and so will the Fords, but we should be in the mix again.
“The 300 circuit still has long straights, but it’s more technical than the old layout, which should help us. I enjoy it – I loved the old circuit, but I like the new one even better. It’s challenging.”
Shedden, who is just one point behind Neal in the drivers’ table, did win a race at Snetterton last year and is not worried about the lack of testing he has had since the last BTCC round at Croft.
“We had quite a few things we needed to make changes too and we focused on those rather than running,” he said.
“There are a lot of corners at Snetterton, but there are a lot of straights too. You’re flat in sixth on the start/finish straight, again on the straight behind the pits, and again on the Bentley Straight. It’ll make it a bit tricky, but we’ll have to make the most of the corners.
“It’ll be the usual suspects and I can see the Fords and BMWs being quick. The racing was quite good last year, but it’s quite easy to defend.”
As well as leading the drivers’ table with its two stars, the Honda Yuasa Racing Team leads the team’s table and the manufacturers’ championship heading into the weekend.
The Snetterton action gets under way at 09:35am on Saturday with free practice. Qualifying is at 3:15pm, and the first of three races on Sunday is scheduled for 12:00.