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Honda looks to extend Championship lead

Honda Yuasa Racing Team arrive at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire with their drivers, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden leading the way in the Championship after winning all three races at Oulton Park.

The team also leads the way in the Manufacturers’ and teams’ Championships as the 2012 British Touring Car Championship reaches its half way point and the seven week summer break.

Championship leader Shedden has secured five victories in the last nine races to lead the Championship by five points from 2011 Champion Neal, and the Scotsman believes that the Croft circuit will suit the NGTC Honda Civic, despite the weight on board and the turbo boost available to their rivals.

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“Croft has got a real mix of everything, from very fast corners to I think the slowest corner we go to, the hairpin, so it’s hard to get a balance,” said the 33-year-old.

“It’s still very much a handling circuit so we should be strong.

“I think it’ll be another tough weekend, but the weather could play a big part and that could play into our hands because it negates the weight disadvantage.”

Shedden also reckons that two or three other drivers’ could be in contention for the crown, even though himself, Neal and Jason Plato have broken away from the chasing pack.

“We’ll just work together,” confirmed Shedden. “It’s hard for Jason to deal with both of us, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Collard and Mat Jackson are in contention come the end of the year, and I’m sure Andrew Jordan will put a weekend together soon.”

Having secured a double win in Cheshire last time out, Neal also believes that the Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civics’ will be strong around a circuit he likes, and where he took a double win in 2011.

“I love it and have ever since it was re-opened,” said the triple champion. “It’s not for the fainthearted and you really need big commitment in the fast corners. The way I do it is to make the car good in the slow corners and just hang on in the quick stuff!

“We’re both high on weight, but it’s a handling circuit and that’s the strength of the Civic. The forecast of rain is good for us because we were quick in the wet at Thruxton [earlier in the season].”

Neal also shares Shedden’s views that it isn’t a three horse race: “We’ve just got to get all the points we can,” before concluding “It’d be nice to go into the break with one of us leading the championship. If I can’t win it I want Gordon to.”

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