THE Pershore-based Honda Yuasa Racing duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal are fired-up to attack the second half of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship when the world’s most fiercely-contested tin-top series revs back into life at Snetterton this weekend.
Shedden will arrive at Snetterton sitting just seven points adrift of the championship lead following a consistent opening half to the campaign that yielded a brace of victories.
The Scot has been a prolific winner in the past at Snetterton, too – tallying four triumphs there, the most recent of which last year – and he admits that he is more than ready to climb back into the cockpit of his potent Honda Civic Tourer.
“It’s been a long time since Croft,” reflected the 2012 BTCC champion, “So it will be good to get back into it at Snetterton and really get down to the serious end of the championship. I feel relaxed and refreshed after the summer break and am definitely ready to go again.
“I’ve got happy memories of Snetterton. The ‘300’ layout is the longest circuit we go to on the BTCC calendar, and it has a good mix of corners and hard-braking zones, which should play to our car’s strengths.
“We’re making progress with the Civic Tourer all the time, and while the last couple of circuits perhaps better suited some of our rivals, we’re optimistic about being able to redress the balance next weekend.”
Shenstone-based Neal has similarly tasted victory champagne at Snetterton in the past, in 2003 and 2006. Although recent years have been less kind to him in Norfolk, he is a self-confessed fan of the ‘300’ circuit and eager to bounce back from a luckless run at Oulton Park and Croft as he shifts his attentions towards supporting his team-mate’s title chase.
“I always look forward to the summer break and the chance to recharge my batteries a bit, but by the same token, I always look forward to the resumption of racing, too,” explained the three-time BTCC title-winner, who will be partnered by Shedden in a Lotus Cortina at this weekend’s Silverstone Classic.
“I’ve had a couple of rough meetings recently, but keeping my glass half-full, that does mean I’ll be light going into qualifying at Snetterton, which will definitely be an advantage. The last couple of years there have seen some pretty frenetic racing, but I think we stand as good a chance as anybody else.
“I’m a bit of an outsider for the title now, so my approach going forwards needs to be slightly different – especially with ‘Flash’ still right in contention. The focus will be on supporting his championship challenge and scoring points towards the teams’ and manufacturers’ standings.”