Honda Knockhill BTCC preview

Honda Racing Team stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden both think that this weekend’s rounds of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill in Scotland will prove to be a happy hunting ground for points.

Neal will be battling through the pain barrier at Knockhill after fracturing a bone in his hand in a martial arts exam three weeks ago. He has rested his damaged hand and hopes that he will be fighting fit this weekend as he aims to climb back to the top of the drivers’ standings.

“I am sure that once the adrenaline kicks in, I will be as competitive as usual despite what has happened to my hand,” said Neal, who has already won five times this year.

“Knockhill is a tight and twisty circuit and that means you need a strong chassis, which is certainly one of the strong points of our Civic. We have worked hard on the handling of the car all season and we knew it would reap rewards when we get to demanding circuits like this one.”

Neal, a former double champion, is aiming for three podium finishes in Scotland to reignite his title charge over the closing 12 rounds. “The championship fight has ebbed and flowed all the way through the year so far, but that is because the championship is so competitive this season,” added Matt. “Three strong results at Knockhill would launch me right back into the heart of the title fight.”

For Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden, this weekend’s meeting is one of his favourites of the season. The Fife man works at the circuit as its commercial director as his day job and he is relishing the chance to put on a good show for the home fans.

Shedden has won three times so far this season and is second in the points standings ahead of the seventh meeting of the year. Shedden knows that the three races in his backyard will be vital for the title run-in.

“The fans at my home circuit are amazing,” said Shedden. “You can see their reaction when you are doing well. The paddock is so open that the crowd really feels like it is part of the event, which gives this round a unique atmosphere.

“The huge backing doesn’t give me any more speed, because in this championship you have to drive flat out to get the most out of every race, but it certainly is a confidence boost,” adds ‘Flash’. “It means you can walk through the paddock a couple of inches higher because you know that there are so many people willing you to do well.

“There are no more points on offer at Knockhill than there are at any other circuit though and I have to take that on board. To keep up the championship challenge, you need strong finishes everywhere and it might be more sensible for me to bank a decent finish rather than go for broke, even if it is my home circuit. At the end of the day, this is just another building block towards my aim of winning the overall title.”

The three races take place on the Fife circuit on Sunday 4 September, and are broadcast live on ITV4. The opening race of the day takes place at 11.45am.