Honda completes Thruxton test
Following an all-conquering 2012 season, Honda Yuasa Racing Team completed its first full test of the 2013 campaign at Thruxton earlier this week (20/21 February), with the team keen to get a jump on its title rivals.
The works-backed outfit joined Pirtek Racing at the Hampshire venue, and despite almost freezing temperatures, the reigning BTCC champions are confident that progress was made.
“This was our first proper test of the year,” said Matt Neal. “We’ve looked at the whole car over the winter – the engine, aerodynamics, suspension – everything. We’re still waiting to add a new aero package, but we’ve had a new engine in my car, which both Gordon and I have had runs in.
“Despite winning the championship last year we were still learning so much about the car as the season progressed. With testing being quite limited too, we’re now just trying to fine tune everything and perfect the car as much as we can.”
Both Gordon Shedden and Neal ran through their respective programmes without any problems, and the squad now moves to Silverstone and Snetterton for further test days next week.
“We have a set testing programme, with different combinations of springs, dampers etc.” continued Neal. “The guys have obviously prepared well prior to testing by simulating some set-ups, so we can get on with making progress rather than trying things we know don’t work. Obviously sometimes you may end up going down a different route after trying things out on the track and that’s what this is all about. Both Gordon and I have been trying different things to be honest, but in the attempt to reach a common goal for the team. Overall it has gone well.”
As mentioned, Shedden enjoyed runs in both his own and Neal’s car over the two days at Thruxton, and whilst his immediate attention is on the team’s testing schedule, he has also kept an eye on the 2013 BTCC line-up taking shape. “The grid for this year is looking fantastic,” Gordon told btcc.net. “We all want as much competition as possible so I think it’s great. The BMWs will be there or thereabouts, and Motorbase has had some time to learn more about their NGTC car, plus of course there’s MG and Pirtek. Frank Wrathall won the last race of the year and I’m sure he’ll fancy his chances too. There will be lots of challengers for sure.”
The high level of competition noted by the reigning champion is something that his team-mate concurs with. “The championship is looking mega,” Neal concluded. “The likes of Turkington coming back and with WSR building new cars just adds to the strength in depth - it’s great to see such numbers of NGTC cars out there.
“There’s one current champion and three former ones out there and a host of others who are going to be challenging, which is exactly what we all want to see.”
The opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes place at Brands Hatch on the 30/31 March – for tickets visit www.brandshatch.co.uk/calendar/2013/march/btcc-3031-march-bh.aspx