Both Honda Racing Team drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden have pledged to go flat out for wins in the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend as they aim to protect their title advantage.
The pair are locked together at the head of the drivers’ standings with six races remaining but they both know that they can’t let up for their quest to land the most prestigious motor racing title in British motor racing.
Neal, a former two-time champion, explained: “Just because Gordon and I are leading the points, it’s not going to change our attitude at all. We can’t let it because there are six races to go and things can change quickly. We need to keep attacking for wins.”
Neal and Shedden, along with the other turbo-powered cars in the series, have been fitted with 20 kilogrammes of extra ballast to handicap their machines and Neal says that the penalty has made things tough.
“Brands is a great track but we have the extra weight which is really going to hurt us. We have to cope with that as well as all the on-track rivals we normally have. This means we have to push to the limits every time we go on circuit just to keep up. There will be no backing off.”
Scotsman Shedden says that they will work hard to protect each others bid on track and keep ahead of their rivals. “Both Matt and I want to win the title,” says ‘Flash’ “If I can’t win it then I want Matt too. That means we respect each other on track and we won’t compromise each other.”
Shedden, too, says that the extra weight is going to make it an uphill fight during the three races on Sunday. The 2.6-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix layout is one of the most challenging in the country and demands a good all-round car, he says. “We are noticing the extra penalty in all areas - on the brakes, under acceleration, in the corners, everywhere,” adds ‘Flash’. “We are getting to the limit of grip with the tyres because we are hauling so much weight around and we are only still in the title fight because the Honda has such a great chassis.
“I love the circuit though and every driver will say it’s one of their favourites. Every single corner is a challenge. There are fast corners out the back and there are crests where you take off and it’s all arms and elbows. The satisfaction of getting the lap right is incredible.”
The first of the weekend’s three races, which are shown live on ITV4, is scheduled to begin at 11.30am on Sunday, October 2. The next instalment of ‘What Drives a Racing Team’The third film in Honda Racing’s ‘What Drives a Racing Team’ documentary series is now live on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEw5hyOo0Vo
This instalment takes a look at the whole Honda Racing team. Engineers, grid girls and team managers share their experiences of working with a championship-winning outfit.