Neal enjoys first run of 2013
Matt Neal and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team enjoyed their first run of 2013 at Rockingham yesterday (7 February), as their pre-season test schedule got underway.
Neal drove Gordon Shedden’s title-winning machine from last season as the team focussed mainly on tyre evaluation for manufacturer Dunlop. Neal described the day as ‘successful’, despite track temperatures failing to register above two degrees throughout the day.
“It went well,” said Neal. “It was my first time in the car for three months, so it was nice to be back. We were working mainly on tyre development with Dunlop, as Rockingham is known for working the tyres quite hard. We didn’t learn a great deal as a team as I was in last year’s car, but it was certainly good to get things underway and the work completed for Dunlop was productive. Flash [Shedden] and I are going to be pretty busy on track from now on in, however, as we hope to complete around ten test days ahead of the season.”
The Worcestershire racer was giving little away regarding the development of his squad’s 2013 Honda Civic contender, but he was sure they’d be leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to unlock its maximum potential. “We’ve worked extremely hard over the winter because we know that’s exactly what everyone else is doing,” he told btcc.net. “We’re the ones to beat and we have a huge target on our backs, so it’s vital that we do everything we can to remain at the front.”
Despite the Japanese marque scooping all five BTCC titles in 2012, Neal is under no illusions as to the level of competition they’ll face again this season. “Of course Jason [Plato] will be a contender,” he concluded. “He’s now joined by Sam Tordoff, who is also proven and an accomplished driver, so we expect MG to be stronger as a team. You then have teams like Motorbase and WSR which will also be up there I’m sure. Colin Turkington is coming back into the mix too, which is great – it all adds up to more competition, so bring it on!”