Three-time British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal is convinced that the striking new Civic Type-R can take Honda back to the top of the pile in 2015 despite its late launch.

Neal and Gordon Shedden completed the 2015 Civic Type-R's first 'public showing' at the Donington Park Media test after the Team Dynamics outfit had already undertaken a shakedown of the car last week at Brands Hatch, with Neal at the wheel.

Last season Honda took the surprising decision to run the estate version [Tourer] of the hugely successful Civic model but ended up losing all three championships the hatchback helped clinch in 2013.

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Neal - while stating we shouldn't see a repeat of the Honda straight-line speed struggles from 2014 - says the Type-R is a step forward from the Tourer in every department.

"It's early days yet," Neal told crash.net. "We've run it at Brands Hatch and Flash [Shedden] is having his first run in it today, so we're only at the shakedown stage of things and sorting through the teething problems.

"At the moment we're dealing with the problems which aren't really problems but things you come across with new cars against established packages.

"The car feels good though initially, we've refined every area. We've got more power in this engine and any other previous Honda engine in the BTCC. All the ingredients are there.

"We're going to win. We want to win, that's the long and short of it. The Tourer was good but the Type-R is even better. Our main objective is to get back to the top."

Neal, though, isn't getting carried away and believes the pursuit of a fourth BTCC-title for himself will still be a tall order, such is the ever increasing competitive nature of a 30-plus car field.

The 48-year old - by his own remarkable standards - endured an off-colour 2014 after claiming only the solitary victory at Croft before finishing a distant eighth in the standings.

"The regulations don't allow for you to make a quantum leap from one area to another, it's just trying to refine every area of the car and to make it quicker. The trouble is the field is so tight at the moment," the three-time champion continued.

"Brands Hatch will be the first time we're all going to run with no weight in first qualifying with correct boost along with managing your tyres against 30 other cars on the circuit, we're going to need a bit of luck as well.

"Any year in the Honda you've got a good chance to win the title. It's just last year I had a rough year but that's behind me now and hopefully I can look forward to one of those title runs."

Neal finished the Donington Media test twelfth for Honda while Shedden could only set a time good enough for 18th after enjoying his first exploratory laps in the Type-R.