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Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden expecting to be ‘in the hunt’

Honda Yuasa Racing drivers Gordon Shedden Matt Neal are optimistic about their chances of a strong showing as the British Touring Car Championship heads to Croft for the fifth round of the season.

The pair sit second and third respectively in the drivers’ championship standings as the 2015 campaign nears the halfway stage, with both of them well-placed to hit the front if current leader Jason Plato suffers any problems.

Those placings come after another successful meeting at Oulton Park three weeks ago, after the Honda stalwarts secured a hat-trick of podium finishes between them at the Cheshire Circuit in their Civic Type-Rs.

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And heading to North Yorkshire, Shedden was eager to continue his strong start to the season before the summer break, at a circuit where he has enjoyed previous fortune.

“To come away from Oulton Park last time with three top six finishes including a podium and still feel disappointed underlines just how high our expectations now are with this car,” said a buoyant Shedden. “Croft represents a massive challenge for the engineers, because it’s very much a track of two halves. You’ve got some really fast sections where you need good stability from the car, and then what must be the slowest corner in UK motorsport with the tight hairpin at the end of the lap, where you want the car to be very lively and on its tiptoes.

“I’ve enjoyed a pretty decent run there over the past few years, and with the way the Civic Type R is going, hopefully that will continue – every track seems to suit it at the moment. I really can’t wait! The aim is to climb back onto the top step of the podium.”

Neal shared his team-mate’s optimism, but conceded that he and Shedden would face stiff competition in their hunt for further victories.

“I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” he said. “As soon as we finished the last race at Oulton Park, I was already excited about going to Croft because I just love driving the Civic Type R right now.

“I enjoy the challenge that Croft poses – you really need to have an all-round car underneath you, and Civics have always fared pretty well in that respect. Both ‘Flash’ and I will be pretty heavy again going into qualifying and race one, but in theory ballast should be less of a penalty at Croft than it was at Oulton, so I think we should be in the hunt – especially through the high-speed stuff out the back of the circuit, which is exactly the type of territory where this car excels.

“The battle at the front of the field is so close and so competitive this year, with plenty of potential winners out there – and there’s no reason to expect any different at Croft.”

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