Honda have given a warning to their British Touring Car Championship rivals after a record-breaking weekend for their new car at Brands Hatch.
The Honda Yuasa Racing duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden both clinched second and third places in the three races of the opening meeting of the BTCC season to secure the first podium place for an estate car in the history of British touring cars.
Three-times BTCC champion Neal was the man who claimed the record when he raced to third place at the Kent circuit in the first race of the day on Sunday. Team-mate Shedden went one better in the second race which Neal matched during the final race of the day. His success put him second in the overall driver standings on 45 points, just two points behind reigning BTCC champion Andrew Jordan. Shedden lies fourth.
“I’m chuffed to bits with the results, absolutely over-the-moon,” said Neal. “Ok, we didn’t win a race, but we certainly made our presence felt and threatened the top spot. Every time we go out in this car, we are learning something new and making progress.
“The level of competition in the BTCC is so incredibly high this year that you’ve really got to roll your sleeves up just to stay inside the top ten – but we will always dig deep and find something, so underestimate us at your peril.”
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Shedden was equally pleased, especially at a circuit where he has suffered a fair amount of bad luck.
“I honestly don’t think anybody expected us to come away from the car’s first weekend with a podium in every race," the Scot said.
"Historically, Brands Hatch Indy has always been my bogey circuit; last year, I left 37 points off the championship lead, so this is a massive turnaround."
Both drivers were confident that there is more to come from the Tourer which they claim is better suited to the faster and more sweeping circuits such as Thruxton rather than the tight twisty Brands Hatch track.
“To be this competitive this early is fantastic," Shedden continued, adding: "especially as we will only improve as we really find the car’s sweet spot – and there are some circuits coming up that should suit the Civic Tourer better. We are firmly in the game, the car is quick enough to win – and there’s plenty more still to come.”