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Honda ready for Scottish battle

Honda Yuasa Racing Team and their drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden head to Knockhill looking to bounce back from a difficult weekend at Snetterton.

The Snetterton weekend marked the first weekend which neither Neal nor Shedden took a victory in their NGTC Honda Civics but despite the winless weekend, they continue to sit first and second in the Drivers’ Championship while the team tops the Manufacturers and HiQ Teams’ Championship.

Knockhill marks the home weekend for Shedden and he hopes that the tight and twisty circuit will play to the strengths of the Honda, as the car still suffers from the turbo boost equalisation regulations.

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“It’s a fantastic circuit to drive and it always provides great racing,” says Shedden, who was hampered by various technical glitches last time out. “We’re going from the longest, flattest circuits at Snetterton to the shortest and one of the most undulating.”

Shedden had a tough weekend in Norfolk, which cumulated in an exclusion in race 3 for an over boost issue. He arrives at his local circuit eight points off the Championship lead.

He is hopeful for an upturn in form around the picturesque Fife circuit.

“Snetterton was a disaster – the car was great, but we were just blown away in a straight line,” continued Shedden. “Knockhill has a lot more of the type of corner that should suit us. There’s the drag out of the hairpin, but at least it’s just one big drag instead of three, like at Snetterton.

“When we’re running, we’re on the pace. We just need to put it all together and have a trouble-free weekend.”

Championship leader Neal is less confident heading into rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship.

“It’s so marginal on times that the long straight could make a difference,” says the triple champion. “And the MG was very good on the kerbs at Snetterton, so who knows?”

Looking back over his experiences of the Knockhill circuit, Neal has one specific memory.

“My main memory is getting turned round by Colin McRae at the hairpin, much to the crowd’s glee!

“It’s just different and it’s a pleasant change. Because it’s so close [on laptimes], the racing is intense.

“We’ll take it as it comes, roll with the punches, and see if we can come away with some good points.”

It isn’t just the racing out on track which will keep Shedden busy at Knockhill – the circuit celebrates 20 years of being a part of the BTCC calendar, and almost every Scottish driver to have raced in the BTCC will be in attendance.

“We’ve got almost all the living Scots who have raced in the BTCC coming along,” concludes Shedden. “It’ll be fantastic.

“The biggest thing is the support you get – the fans are so close to the track and each year it’s bigger and better.”

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