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Honda team mates vow to work together to deny Plato the title

Thursday, September 29 2011

Honda Racing team mates Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are tied on points heading into the penultimate round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend (1/2 October), with double champion Neal taking the championship lead on wins. However despite a clash at Oulton Park earlier in the year, both drivers have their focus on the team effort to beat Jason Plato to the crown.

"It would be a dream come true to win this year but Flash (Gordon) is just as hungry to win his first ever BTCC title," said Neal. "We have still got to work together as a team so we won't be completely focussing on ourselves." 

Shedden added: "I am concerned by Matt and Jason equally but you have to remember it is not just the three or four of us driving around - there are lot of other drivers and cars that are capable of winning."

Plato is currently the danger man for Honda, having clawed back a points deficit in the second half of the season, following a rules break for the normally-aspirated Chevrolet that has brought it back on terms with the turbo Hondas. "It's not good for the stress levels but I'm sure Alan Gow likes how the championship standings are heading in the final few rounds of the season," commented Neal. "It's definitely a three way title fight now with Chevy coming on very strong in the hands of Jason Plato.

"I think the Chevy will be strong at Brands Hatch but the Honda's handling should be mega," Neal predicted. "It will be interesting to see how we cope with the haul up the hill and onto the Grand Prix loop but who knows what will happen and who will be strong."

The title tension showed last time out at Rockingham when the pair nearly came to blows. Neal felt that Plato had blocked his qualifying lap and made his feelings clear in the pitlane afterwards, but he reckons he's put it all behind him: "I don't think I will be buying Jason a beer but we spoke after the incident and we said that life is too short. I wouldn't say we were ok but we have drawn a line underneath it and put it to bed."

However Shedden warns against keeping the focus too narrow: "It's always crunch time but there are six races to go and anything can happen. There are some championships which only have six races so you have to put it into perspective.

"The target for me is 30 points but it's not an easy task," he continued. "Especially with the reduction of the turbo boost and the extra weight we have to carry. It's difficult to tell how strong we will be but qualifying will be important. The Brands Hatch GP circuit is one of my favourites - it is a real old school track and I think the Civic will be strong.

"The first priority is to make sure a Honda crosses the finish line first but it is not a position I will waste. I have dreamed of winning the British Touring Car Championship ever since I was a kid."

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (1-2 October) are available from £25, with free entry for children 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.