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Honda ‘confident but not over-confident’ for Brands

Honda drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden admit to being “confident without being over-confident” ahead of the season opener of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Brands Hatch this weekend.

Former champions Neal and Shedden will take to the track for the first round of the season in the brand new Honda Civic Type-R – marking the second consecutive year in which the team have begun the season with a new model.

Having taken just four wins with the Civic Tourer in 2014 – the squad’s lowest tally since 2009 – Honda are hoping to regularly return to the winners rostrum in 2015 with the new sporty Civic Type-R Hatch.

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“The car feels good; it’s very agile to drive and very nimble on its toes – it certainly feels as good as it looks,” exclaimed former triple champion Neal. “We’ve been quietly and methodically getting on with the job in-hand, and we’re confident without being over-confident.

“Qualifying at Brands is going to be extremely tight, and just the blink of an eye could mean a four or five-place drop down the grid. I think our initial objective has to be to start off inside the top ten and move forward from there.

“Being so new, the Civic Type R still has loads of untapped potential. For now, we need to walk before we can run – but when we do start running, it really will be a case of ‘catch us if you can!’”

Scot Shedden, who has beaten team-mate Neal in each of the last three seasons, admits that it’s difficult to know where he and the team stand in the running order. Shedden finished the pre-season Media Day test at Donington Park with the 18th fastest time, whilst Neal was 12th quickest.

“It’s always difficult to know where everybody is going to stack up at this stage of proceedings, as nobody really shows their true hand during the pre-season, but we’re happy with where we are and feeling optimistic for Brands Hatch – I’m confident we’ll be in the mix,” said the Scot. “Everything is obviously still very new with the Civic Type R, but the goal remains the same.”

BTCC bosses are introducing additional success ballast for 2015, with race winners forced to carry more weight and ballast being given to the top ten finishers. As such, Shedden admits that consistency will be all the more important in the coming season.

“With the extra success ballast, consistency will be more important than ever this year, and we want to be troubling the podium and putting some very solid points on the board at Brands – at the very least. The Type R might have taken to the track a little later than some of the other cars – but I promise you it will be worth the wait!”

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