2 May 2014
Honda look to maintain BTCC Tourer momentum
Honda buoyed by Civic Tourer's maiden victory ahead of Thruxton.
BTCC team and manufacturers leaders Honda believe their Civic Tourer should prove to be a 'potent weapon' at Thruxton this weekend.
The Honda Yuasa squad arrive at Thruxton with a spring in their step following Gordon Shedden's sensational last-gasp victory in Donington's third and final race of the day – elevating the Scot to just one-point behind Andrew Jordan and Jason Plato at the top of the title chase.
“To win race three at Donington was absolutely awesome,” said Shedden.
“Every win you achieve is rewarding, but that one was particularly special for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we made a bit of history as the first Tourer ever to win a touring car race, which was no mean feat in itself, and secondly, it was just a cracking race – probably one of the best I've ever driven.”
Looking to Thruxton, the former BTCC-champion says he arrives with confidence but cites the fast and flowing circuit's traditional tyre preservation issue as another challenge.
“Now, I'm really looking forward to Thruxton. It's a fantastic circuit and one that poses a genuine challenge. The racing is always very close with all the slip-streaming that goes on, and the number of quick corners means you really need to be at one with your car.
“The paradox is that although it's the fastest circuit we go to, you don't necessarily have to have the out-and-out fastest car to win there.
“As a driver, you tend to breathe a sigh of relief if you get to the end of the race at Thruxton and you've still got four tyres and some air pressure inside them! Historically, I've had a decent run there in the Civic hatchback and the Civic Tourer should be a pretty potent weapon, so I'm returning full of confidence.”
Shedden's Honda team mate Matt Neal, who claimed two thirds of Honda's clean sweep at Thruxton last season, says being slightly behind in the title race gives him an opportunity to strike back this weekend as the former triple-champion carries less ballast than his rivals.
“To be close to the top but a little further down in the classification is a blessing in many ways – we'll have less ballast on-board than our rivals, so we need to capitalise upon that,” said Neal.
“I love Thruxton, but weirdly, until last year it hadn't been a place where I'd had a lot of luck. Last season there was amazing for me, though, and hopefully the aerodynamics of the Civic Tourer will suit the track.
“We did some testing over the winter which should help us a bit, but to be honest, the ambient temperatures were much colder so whilst it was great to get the track time, we'll still have a lot to learn this weekend.”
Yuasa Honda's team manager Peter Colla believes, on a weekend where tyres look set to play a pivotal role, their Civic Tourer should excel in preserving the Dunlop rubber.
“Thruxton is always a massive test both from a driver and an engineering perspective,” says Colla.
“That said, we think our car is quite sympathetic on its tyres, and we know both drivers will be able to pull out the maximum performance possible.”
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