Joint British Touring Car Championship leaders Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden have pledged to keep pushing for wins at Brands Hatch this weekend – despite both drivers holding a 24-point advantage over nearest rival Jason Plato.
Indeed the fortunes of the Honda duo’s rivals backup their attitude entirely – prior to Knockhill Mat Jackson was leading the championship. Two bad race weekends – the same number left in the season – effectively ended his championship challenge.
“Just because Gordon and I are leading the points, it’s not going to change our attitude at all,” admitted Neal. “We can’t let it because there are six races to go and things can change quickly. We need to keep attacking for wins.”
Former double champion Neal is also all too aware of the continued restrictions imposed on his team – with all turbo-powered entrants recently having received an extra 20kg weight penalty.
“Brands is a great track but we have the extra weight which is really going to hurt us,” added Neal. “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.”
The two Honda team-mates have also shown remarkable harmony in the team this season – despite a coming together earlier in the year at Oulton Park that threatened to damage relations inside the team. Instead it seems that the duo have become stronger, with both drivers wanting the other to win if they can’t take title glory themselves.
“Both Matt and I want to win the title,” added Shedden. “If I can’t win it then I want Matt to. That means we respect each other on track and we won’t compromise each other.”
Shedden also took the time to praise his Honda’s handling in the wake of further restrictions imposed by Toca.
We are noticing the extra penalty in all areas – on the brakes, under acceleration, in the corners, everywhere. 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 [Brands Hatch] 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.”
Although Honda’s advantage in the drivers’ championship is just 24 points, their advantage in the team’s standings is considerably more at 134 points. It is likely that they could lift the teams championship this weekend.
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