Posts by: CTRO

Friday September 13th 2002 , 8:59 pm GMT, is where it all began, and CTRO™ was born, and some things are not born equal. CTRO™ is a dedicated Honda owners club, and we love what we do, it’s who we are. As a team working side by side, we aspire to deliver the best resource for Honda products anywhere in the world: a place where work, life and inspiration are all equal and integrated. Our team at CTRO™ have worked with Honda on numerous events including vehicle launches, motor shows, owner events and the organisation of photo shoots for every major UK automotive magazine publisher. We are THE definitive resource for all things Honda and Type R. f you want the very best in Type R information and Honda news, you have found the right place, and we welcome you to our world, the world of Honda, the world of Type R, but more importantly to our family, the family of CTRO™. “Often Imitated , Never Duplicated”

Oil – The Definitive Guide

The CTRO Definitive Oil Guide.

Which oil do I use? It’s a question asked time and time again. Well now, you can find out here, with our definitive oil guide.


It appears that Honda are using 10w-40 for running in. After the run-in period, these are the oils/fluids you should use as per the Manufacturers recommendations.

Lubricant report for: Honda, Civic 2001, Civic 2.0 16V Type R, (2.0 Typ R VTEC),2001-
Manufacturer: Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
Drive type: f.w.d.
Cylinder capacity: 1998 cc
Power output: 200 HP/147 kW at 7400 rpm

Engine: petrol, 4-stroke, water cooled, 4 valves/cyl.
Capacity: 4.50 liter
Filter capacity: 0.20 liter
Note: Change every 20000 km or 12 months & Check daily

OEM recommendation: Year-round API: SJ-EC SAE 0W-20
Year-round API: SJ-EC SAE 0W-30
Year-round API: SJ-EC SAE 0W-40
Year-round API: SJ-EC SAE 5W-30
Year-round API: SJ-EC SAE 5W-40

Component note: Under severe conditions change fluid every 10000km/6 months.

Transaxle / Gearbox: manual
Capacity: 1.50 liter
Gears forward: 6
Gears reverse: 1
Note: Check every 20000 km or 12 months
Note: Change every 120000 km or 72 months
Note: Check for leaks

OEM recommendation: Year-round Special Honda MTF-II –

Lube group note.
If Honda MTF-II is not available, in emergency cases a motor oil API: SG or SH with viscosity 10W-30 or 10W-40 may be used. This can lead to a heavy gear change and excessive wear.

Component note. 
When driving in extreme temp.(>32°C) or when driving with caravan or in the mountains, change fluid every 60000km/48 months.

Power steering. 
Check every 20000 km or 12 months
Special service: Top up only (filled for life).

OEM recommendation.
Year-round Special power steering fluid, Honda.

Lube group note.
Do not use other fluids!

Hydraulic brakes/clutch system: ABS
Capacity: 0.60 liter
Check: every 20000 km or 12 months
Change: every 36 months
Check: check for leaks

OEM recommendation.
Year-round Brake fluid: DOT 3 
Year-round Brake fluid: DOT 4

Cooling system. 
Capacity: 5.30 liter
Check: Every 20000 km or 12 months
Change: Every 100000 km or 60 months
Check: Check for leaks
Special Service: First change at 200000Km, or 120 Mths

Ensure that the API is either SJ or SL for the engine oil. The latest is SL and as these are backwardly compatible it’s best to use the latest spec which is SL.

Hope this helps,

Simon @ Opie Oils.


Halfords Yuasa Racing will be a two-car squad for the remainder of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, after ending its relationship with third driver Andy Neate with immediate effect.

Series organiser TOCA has been kept aware of developments throughout the process and has agreed to the withdrawal of the car from the remainder of the 2016 Championship, and has subsequently recalled the loaned TBL (TOCA BTCC Licence) associated with that entry.

Halfords Yuasa Racing still holds two permanent TBLs, which are required for each entry to guarantee participation, whilst this third licence was loaned to the team prior to the 2016 season.

This loaned TBL shall be re-allocated by TOCA from the next event (Thruxton) to another team/entry for the rest of the season – details of which will be announced in due course.

Andy Neate Leaves Honda.

Andy Neate Leaves Honda.

Halfords returns with Team Halfords Yuasa Racing.

Halfords returns with Team Halfords Yuasa Racing for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, with the team ready to defend its driver and manufacturer titles with Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and new signing Andy Neate.

Halfords will be back on the BTCC grid after a seven-year absence, as co-title sponsor of last year’s championship winning team, which now competes as Team Halfords Yuasa Racing. Scotsman Gordon Shedden will return to defend his drivers’ championship title after an exhilarating 2015 season, with team-mate and three-time champion Matt Neal entering his 26th year in the UK’s premier motorsport category.

The team also expands to three cars for the first time since 2006, with the experienced Andy Neate joining the squad.

Halfords sponsored Team Dynamics’ motorsport programme for five years from 2004 to 2008, with Matt Neal winning the first two championships of his BTCC career behind the wheel of the famous Honda Integra Type R, also becoming the first independent driver to win the overall drivers’ championship in the British Touring Car Championship’s history.

Gordon Shedden joined the Halfords and Team Dynamics family in 2006, taking four wins and helping Team Halfords to its second consecutive teams’ championship title in his debut season.

Paul Tomlinson, Motoring Expert at Halfords: “It’s fantastic to bring the Halfords and Halfords Autocentre brands back into the country’s biggest motorsport championship. We’re looking forward to laying down the gauntlet this season and bringing orange and black back to the grid with Team Dynamics, as well as our partner Yuasa Batteries, to defend the driver and manufacturer titles.”

Andrew Taylor, Managing Director of Yuasa Battery Sales (UK): “We’ve had an amazing journey so far in the British Touring Car Championship with Matt, Gordon and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team, and now we look forward to working with Halfords to defend our championship with the team in 2016. Our sponsorship of the team now enters a new era, and one that we’re very excited about.”

Richard Tait-Harris, Commercial Director, Team Dynamics: “Having worked with Halfords for five years in the past and winning two championships with Matt, we look forward to a long and successful future together. We’re also excited to be continuing our fantastic relationship with Yuasa Batteries and to the challenge of retaining our title as champions of the BTCC this year.”

The full livery of the team’s Honda Civic Type R’s will be unveiled at the BTCC 2016 Season Launch event at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on March 22nd.

The Halfords era.....

Team Dynamics Halfords Flashback!

Civic Hatchback Prototype

Prototype of the next-generation Civic hatchback makes global premiere at 2016 Geneva Motor Show

• Assertive stance and provocative new design establishes 10th generation as the sportiest Civic ever
• Low, wide proportions and long wheelbase promise engaging driving dynamics while maximising interior space
• First European vehicle to be available with Honda’s all-new 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engines with further improvements made to existing 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine
• New Civic hatchback will be available in Europe early in 2017 and will be built at Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM)

The next-generation Civic hatchback makes its global debut in prototype form at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The design of the prototype heralds a significant step-change from previous versions of Honda’s core European model, focusing on provocative design and rewarding driving dynamics.

Jean-Marc Streng, General Manager of Honda Motor Europe, Automobile Division, commented: “The Civic is a core model for Europe with a strong sales and manufacturing heritage in the region. For many European customers, Civic is synonymous with the Honda brand. The all-new Civic hatchback continues this tradition, and we hope will continue to be a key volume pillar for the European business. We are excited to be developing this next generation model and look forward to its introduction in early 2017.”

A distinctive design and sportier Civic

The all-new Civic hatchback will be 30 mm wider, 20 mm lower and 130 mm longer than the current generation. New larger and wider wheels and tyres give a feeling of an assured stance, while the long wheelbase, short overhangs and sleek cabin area further add to the dynamic feel of the exterior.

At the front of the car, a short overhang with large air intakes presents a sharp and aggressive interpretation of Honda’s family face. LED headlights and daytime running lights flow from beneath the boldly sculpted bonnet into accentuated wheel arches.

The sleek and swept-back body lines continue along the side of the car with a swage line that incorporates front and rear door handles before culminating in the distinctive C-shaped LED rear lights. A second, lower character line extends from behind the front wheels up through the doors and meets the rear wheel arches, emphasising the car’s dynamic forward-leaning stance. At the rear, the bumper incorporates angular creases and vents, designed to echo the aggressively styled nature of the rest of the car.

Daisuke Tsutamori, Project Leader for the styling of the Prototype provides an insight into how the distinctive design was conceived and realised: “We knew that we needed to create a striking and stand-out exterior design that challenged conventional European compact styling while staying true to the original Civic’s core values. The result is a marriage of distinctive and sporty design, rewarding driving dynamics and versatile practicality.”

New turbocharged powertrain options deliver improved driving experience

The all-new Civic Hatchback will feature a range of three powertrain options: 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engines, and a revised 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel unit. Civic will be the first European model to feature the two all-new petrol engines.

The all-new engines are part of Honda’s growing Earth Dreams Technology range and aim to deliver a combination of dynamic performance, a class-leading output for their displacement and excellent fuel economy.

Based on a completely new engine structure and harnessing newly developed turbo systems, the petrol engines feature variable valve motion technology to reduce friction and achieve class-leading output and environmental performance. A turbocharger with a low moment of inertia and high responsiveness, together with direct injection technology seek to achieve an optimum balance between high output and torque, above those of conventional naturally-aspirated engines.

A revised version of Honda’s popular and efficient 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine – unique to European Honda vehicles– will be offered alongside the two new petrol engines. The common rail turbo-diesel unit incorporates extensive technologies that reduce friction, improve emissions and increase fuel economy. The engine features a small, high-efficiency turbocharger, low-pressure EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system and a high-intake flow, high-swirl cylinder head port. A new high-strength, lightweight slender crankshaft and all-aluminium, open-deck, high-pressure, die-cast engine block makes the unit lightweight while ensuring high levels of durability.

10th generation Civic hatchback to be built in Europe and exported globally

Honda’s European production facility, Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM), will become the global production hub for the 10th generation Civic hatchback. Honda has confirmed investment of €270m in new production technologies and processes to prepare for the new model, which will be exported around the world, including the US. The investment is part of a long-term vision for the European plant in Honda’s global operations.

Jason Smith, Director of HUM, commented, “By establishing HUM as a global production facility for the all-new Civic hatchback, Honda is demonstrating its long-term commitment to manufacturing in the UK and Europe.

This is incredibly important for HUM and is a reward for the commitment and effort put in by Honda associates in recent years. As a global production facility for the Civic hatchback we look forward to making the most of the opportunity to export this model not only to our European customers, but also to key global markets.”

8th February 2016 BTCC, Civic, Latest, Newsflash, Uncategorized

Andy Neate to Join 2016 Honda Works BTCC Team

Andy Neate has signed with Team Dynamics to take the third driver position in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Partnering with triple champion Matt Neal and double champion Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden, Neate will be driving a third factory Honda Civic Type R.

With the third car licence announced at the tail end of last year, today’s announcement ends speculation on the driver joining the championship winning team.

Having claimed the double last year with both the drivers and manufacturers championships, with Flash taking the championship to the wire by pipping Plato to the post by just four points in the last race at Brands Hatch, the Honda works team will be looking to successfully defend both their titles in the 2016 season, which kicks off at the start of April, again at Brands Hatch.

Neate has competed in British Touring Cars for several years, most recently in 2013 in the Chevrolet Cruze with IP Tech. His most notable season in 2012 was with MG KX Momentum Racing as a factory driver, piloting the MG6 GT alongside Jason Plato.

James Rodgers, Team Manager at Team Dynamics, commented: “We are delighted to have signed Andy to take on the third car and help our team point scoring capabilities for this season. The trend for increasing numbers of cars in teams has meant we are very keen to bolster our presence on the grid this year. Andy joins the Honda works team with plenty of experience to build on and a hunger for podium places, which is just what we are after.”

Andy Neate added: “Like Matt, I’ve been involved with multiple teams in British Touring Cars and so bring with me a wealth of understanding and familiarity of the championship. I’m really excited to be working alongside two of the greats in Matt and Flash and it will be brilliant to have teammates that I can learn so much from.

“The car looked epic last year and I am sure this year will be no different. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and begin to support Honda in achieving back to back manufacturers’ championships, and of course be challenging for those hard fought podiums.”


3rd February 2016 Journal, Latest, News, Newsflash

First production model of all-new Acura NSX fetches almost ten times its book price at auction.

– First production model of all-new Acura NSX fetches almost ten times its book price at auction

– NASCAR team owner bids $1.2million to own the coveted VIN #001

– All proceeds of sale to go to children’s charities

The first production model of the all-new Acura NSX was sold at auction in the US last week, fetching almost ten times its book price at a cool $1.2million (£842,500).

The car featuring the coveted #001 VIN number was bought by Rick Hendrick, owner of the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR team, with every dollar raised donated to children’s charities the Paediatric Brain Tumour Foundation (North Carolina) and Camp Southern Ground (Georgia).

Bidding for the car topped the $1million dollar mark at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2016 auction on the evening of Friday 29thJanuary, making it the highest charity sale of a VIN #001 manufacturer car in the auctioneer’s 45-year history. A renowned collector of first-edition performance cars, Rick Hendrick will add the very special NSX to his museum collection in Charlotte, North Carolina.

With a US retail price starting at $157,800 (£111,000) including delivery, the all-new NSX is Acura’s first built-to-order car, with order books in the US opening on 25th February 2016 in authorised NSX dealerships. An online configurator will also launch that day allowing prospective customers to explore the 573-horsepower, twin-turbo hybrid supercar for themselves.

Specifically designed to bring a “new sports experience” to the supercar segment, the NSX challenges conventional beliefs about supercars, much as the first generation did a quarter of a century ago. This philosophy is realised through an all-new three motor electric hybrid system, a twin -turbo V6 engine 9-speed DCT transmission and multi material body architecture with a range of cutting edge manufacturing practices.

Developed under the concept of a “human-centred supercar,” a car that puts the driver first in every aspect of its design, the next-generation NSX leverages its state-of-the-art hybrid supercar power unit, body and chassis to deliver exceptionally intuitive and immediate response to driver inputs.

The all-new NSX will be sold under the Honda brand when it goes on sale in Europe later this year.

To read more about the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2016 auction please visit

Acura NSX VIN #001 Auction

1st February 2016 Civic, Latest, News, Newsflash

2017 Civic Type R Prototype Testing

A little news on the current prototype testing in Germany.

After the new 2016 Civic Saloon was presented in the US, Honda has recently “officially” announced that the European version of the new Civic will started with its sales during 2017.

Meanwhile, at the Nürburgring, the new Civic Type R has already been spied, and although the current model started its sale this year. The new 2017 Honda Civic Type R will experience revised exterior design, interior upgrades, reduced weight and a long list of other safety and security features. Its biggest competitors will be Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R.

The 2017 Honda Civic Type R features design elements already seen on the current Type R, and also there could be seen the big red Brembo brakes from behind the wheels. Externally, a smaller 3rd tailpipe seen on this prototype may have been merely a test element of the car, however as other prototypes have worn the 3 pipes, there is the possibility this will make production. 

The front grille appears similar to that of the new 2016 Civic, however the front frame is all-new, sporting a splitter and also larger intake vents. The rear gets the all new 2016 Civic’s C-shaped LED taillights, yet despite a similar four-door profile, this prototype showcases cutlines for a hatch as well as trimmed rear overhangs. This means we’re considering this to be the present five-door Type R hatchback, which is offered currently in Europe as well as other markets outside the United States.

We still do not have any information about interior design or any official pictures but expect the 2017 Honda Civic Type R to be largely similar to the current model. Interior design we expect to resemble the new 2016 model with updated features such as new dial arrangements and controls. Likewise anticipate lots of red accents contrasting an or else black log cabin. Heavily boosted sport seats are likewise expected.

Expect the car to retain the the current powertrain in the current version, which as we know is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that consists of direct gasoline injection, Honda’s renowned VTEC valvetrain system, as well as a single-scroll turbocharger. With a 7,000-rpm redline, the high-strung engine emits 306 BHP and 295 lbs/ft of torque. Peak output comes with 6,500 and 2,500 rpm respectively.

If, as we also expect, Honda does add even more power, then these will help to assist the Type R in hitting 60mph in a tad over 5 seconds. Top speed might see a small incremental enhancement over the present generation’s 167mph limit. Putting power to the ground will likely be the same six-speed manual transmission. Do not expect Honda to supply an auto, even for the U.S. market.

1st February 2016 BTCC, Journal, Latest, News, Newsflash

Steve Neal: A Father’s Tale

Author Credit: Inside BTCC

The 2015 BTCC season was a pretty big one for Matt Neal, with the Honda driver celebrating an astonishing 25 years of racing in the championship.

It was during the course of last season that there was the chance to spend some time with Matt’s father Steve to look back at the way in which his career.

It would prove to be a somewhat lengthy chat – which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Steve – meaning it’s taken some time to be able to sit down and transcribe it into the tale below.

A quick word of warning. You might want to pop the kettle on and make a coffee before sitting down to read this one…

Inside BTCC:
Steve, you raced yourself so how did you get into motorsport in the first place?

Steve Neal:
I actually got into motorsport by having a fairly hefty motorcycle accident that was followed by many months in hospital. The insurers made a claim against the other vehicle that was involved and I was awarded £1,500 in compensation. That was in 1959, so it was a lot of money back then. Not being very clever, I went out and spent some of the money on a racing car.

There was £500 that I spent on a Formula Junior Kieft that had been built for a guy called Chris Summers. He was a big guy who weighed something like 18 stone, and he carted the car round on the back of a lorry alongside a barrel of cider, which he would consume over the course of the day at the racing – and it wasn’t a small barrel!

Because it had been specially made for him, it had the biggest cockpit going but was short in the legs so I would stick out above the screen of it. I did a bit of racing with that and then I had a 1500cc engine fitted to do a bit of Formula Libre. Truth be told though, I got fed up with it.

At that point, I had a road going Mini and started to mess about with that instead alongside a local garage mechanic, but we didn’t really understand what we were doing with it. I went to see a guy called Jim Whitehouse, who ran Arden Conversions and was a serious engine tuner. I did a deal with him, he took the Mini off me and I went off and bought a Cooper S. In the meantime, he converted the Mini from me into a 1400cc fire-breathing machine and asked if I wanted to drive it. I did, and it was great; we won quite a few club races with it.

I’d got married by then and by about 1965 had been doing some rallying with the local club. I’d done a few RACs and then went off and did the Monte Carlo Rally. It was going well, but I got buggered up going over the Col du Turini as the car got lifted off the ground with the snow that was lying down between the tracks. We got to the end but weren’t classified, which was a shame as we had been leading privateer up to that point. It was only by luck really, as I’d put snow tyres on earlier than anyone else, but still…

Jim then converted the car into a racecar and I went off to compete in the British Saloon Car Championship. We watched it go from Group N to Group 3 and Group 5. We made our own cylinder heads and components for the engine and it was reasonably successful.

In 1967, I could beat the works cars, so BMC and Cooper came to me and said would I drive for them so I went to join John Rhodes in the works team for 1968. At the end of the year, I’d done well in the European Championship and I was offered the choice to stay with Cooper or to join British Leyland to run with John Handley and John Rhodes. I was offered the third drive there but signed for the Britax Cooper team where Gordon Spice joined me.

We had good fun although we didn’t get on very well. His wife was particularly foul mouthed and used to give me a right mouthful. But we had a laugh along the way.

Steve Neal

Inside BTCC:
So it was while you were busy racing that Matt arrived…

Steve Neal:
Matt was born in 1966 and we bought a new house for the family in 1967. It cost me an arm and a leg, but it was an opportunity that was just too good to miss. When Matt was a baby, he was dragged along to some of the racing but not that much, as a team like Cooper was very professional.

At the end of 1968, I was actually offered a drive in their Cooper Formula 1 car, the one with the Maserati engine that was useless. I had to find £50,000 to do the European part of the season and we found a Japanese company that was prepared to put the money in, but then it never happened. That was all because Cooper was starting to get into a rocky position financially as the British Leyland Competition department was taking work away from them.

We had a race at the end of the year at Brands Hatch on the GP circuit and were running in mixed classes as we did in those days. Brian Muir was driving a Camaro and it pissed petrol out everywhere whilst I was behind him going through Dingle Dell. I hit the petrol and went straight on into a tree that was protected by a straw bale, which did nothing to stop me. I damaged the lens in my eye and lost my binocular vision, which basically ended my serious racing career. I had a chance to carry on but said I wouldn’t do it and then I did some GT racing.

I’d started a business making leather steering wheels and had to focus on that while I was doing some Chevron driving, which I enjoyed as it was with a bunch of amateur guys having fun. I made about 10 grand from doing it, which is how I ended up being able to buy the nice big family house!

Inside BTCC:
Was Matt interested in cars when he was little?

Steve Neal:
Matt would kick a ball around with the gardener and then when he was six, I bought him a go-kart with solid wheels and some handlebars and he soon got the hang of it in a little orchard that was next to the house. He wore the grass out doing laps round this little track, so I set him up with a twists and turns circuit to see how he got on. I don’t know how he did it, but he would just slide through it with opposite lock. All the little girls used to come and watch him. When he was a bit bigger, he had a kart with a motorbike engine that he would use up and down the drive. It was pretty crap to be honest, but he soon got the hang of driving it.

Matt Neal

Inside BTCC:
At what point did he say he wanted to follow you into racing?

Steve Neal:
He had a pal who was four years older than he was and they would hang out all the time. They would make choppers and then got into bikes. They used to ride around the garden on this old thing but I said they needed to have something better, so I bought them a little Honda to use instead. It was a great bike and then when he got to 16, I got him a 50cc motocross bike and he went off on that. By 17, he had a car but his big interest was in motocross so him and his mate both bought a Honda 250 and would go off riding at weekends. They’d borrow a van from work and away they went.

Matt also played at second row for Worcester Warriors and had the chance of a trial with the England U18 team. He was a big lad with plenty of muscle and I thought there was a chance he was going to end up playing rugby for England. Matt went off for the trial and when they got there, the guy in charge told them to get stripped off, get their kit on and then do three laps of the pitch – on their stomachs.

Matt came back from the trial and said there was no chance. Others were more dedicated to the cause but he just wasn’t up for it so I asked what he wanted to do and he said he would try again with the bikes. Unfortunately, he had a fall and broke his leg but he got himself sorted and then when he was testing for the start of the season, he suffered a compressed spine and it was at that point that his mum said enough was enough.

I knew some old racing boys up in Rochdale, Harry Ratcliffe and Jeff Goodliffe, who were running a team Fiestas, so I asked them if they had a car that would be any good for my lad. Jeff said he would find one, so we ended up going into that when Matt was something like 19 or 20.

His first race was at Snetterton, and there was something like 40 cars entered which was too many for the circuit. They basically took the fastest 20 and put them into the race, and then the rest had a qualifying race which Matt started from pole. He made a good start but then he got a bit too excited on the back straight and his foot slipped off the accelerator. He went from first to something like tenth in the blink of an eye, so it taught him a lesson!

Matt Neal

Inside BTCC:
How did he go from there to the next level?

Steve Neal:
He made good progress with the Fiesta and we did the Winter Series and then looked around to see what we could do next. Jeff had a few guys racing for him and I suggested we could get hold of some BMWs and do a bit of Group N racing. I knew Nick Whale and he sold us some cars, which Jeff prepared and Matt drove along with these lads Jeff had brought in.

The cars were basically road cars that had been converted and one day we were out testing at Oulton Park. Going through the left handed into the Shell Oils Hairpin, Matt got overtaken by an F3 car, which then hit the brakes and left Matt with nowhere to go. His car was launched over the wheel of this F3 car and he went flying over the hoardings and down a massive drop, which wrote off the car. In a way, it was a blessing as we were able to buy a new shell, take all the shit out of it, and build a better car that was more competitive.

Matt went on to win the Willhire 24hrs in it in 1990 and when I had the chance to buy a Nissan Skyline from Jan O’Dor at Janspeed as he had the contract for touring cars and Kieth was moving on to race in them. Matt went well in the car and won the Esso Saloon Car Championship and then, having seen what Kieth was doing, we decided to make the move into touring cars.

Inside BTCC:
So how did the touring car adventure begin?

Steve Neal:
Matt did the odd race in 1991 and then I went to see Vic Lee who was running the BMWs in the Securicor livery and did a deal to buy the car that Will Hoy used to win the title that season.

I bought the car off Vic on the condition that we took it as it finished the last race, which is the only way to buy a race car. We took it apart, then built it back up again; finding more power after replacing the exhaust system which was bloody rubbish.

Matt got in the car and he did okay with it. He was pretty happy with things but then one day at Donington Park, he was going down the Craner Curves and his foot went to the floor when he went for the brakes. One of the mechanics hadn’t tightened something up on the car and the end result was that Matt hit the wall at something like 130mph and destroyed it.

Matt Neal

That was going to be it until Ray Bellm mentioned to me that Prodrive were shutting up shop and selling their cars and asked if we wanted to have a go with them.

Between us, we did the deal and set up a team with Daily Express backing for Matt and a rich kid who Ray had found.

It was around then that Vic was jailed for drug offences, so Ray and I bought the engine build company he had been running from the receivers and named it as Team Dynamics. Steve Soper was a minority shareholder and he was going to get us the contract with BMW in Germany. It didn’t happen in the end and whilst things were okay for a while, we knew we weren’t going to win with the BMW because of what we were up against.

Inside BTCC:
That was the point at which Matt had his first trip away from the family team…

Steve Neal:
Matt went off to race with Mazda in 1994, which was a complicated deal to put together. I had a deal to run the ‘Crinkley Bottom Racing Team’ based on Noel Edmonds TV show and the sponsorship was going to come from a football pools company. Andrew Marriott [now a well known motorsport journalist and broadcaster] was working for a sponsorship company and he had been negotiating this deal with the pools company and also with Mobil.

Everything had been done and the plan was to launch it all at the Bluebird Club in London, but 24 hours before, the board of the pools company pulled the plug and it all collapsed.

Matt Neal

At that point, Mazda had already committed to it but not fully as they had been relying on the Crinkley Bottom deal. It meant that they went into the season and Matt and David Leslie in the cars without the funding they needed.

The car wasn’t really competitive but it was going okay until Silverstone, when there was a bit of a fracas coming out of Copse when Chris Goodwin tried to get between Matt and David. There wasn’t space and the end result was that Matt got sent into one of the biggest BTCC accidents caught on camera. It damaged his back and broke some ribs so that was his season over.

David continued as best he could but the team wouldn’t make it to the end of the year.

Inside BTCC:
For ’95 it was then back to Dynamics again…

Steve Neal:
That’s right. We ended up getting hold of a Rouse Mondeo from Ford in France. It had been built on the cheap but Andy Rouse knew what he was doing and I have a lot of respect for him for the way he did things.

Matt did as well as he could when you consider that he wasn’t allowed things like works tyres and he was also a lot heavier than the other drivers. He was always on the back foot.

We then built another Mondeo but it was a nightmare. The steering was all wrong and the car was undriveable; Matt hated it. We dumped the car and Alec Poole who was running the Nissan project said I had to give Matt a chance in a decent car. He offered to rent us one at £7,000 a meeting, which set him on his way.

Matt Neal

Inside BTCC:
The Nissan years was when things really started to take off wasn’t it?

Steve Neal:
Things started to equal out a bit between the works teams and the privateers. We started to get some upgrades and would get a new car, even though it was always a year behind the factory team. Thanks to Barry [Plowman] and his expertise, we were able to get more and more from the car and quite often we would match the works cars despite not having all they goodies they had.

I remember once having an engineer from the works car come over to tell us what a fantastic job Matt had done compared to their car. He said he couldn’t go into details about the reasons why, but that it was impressive.

Inside BTCC:
Then came the win at Donington in 1999.

Steve Neal:
That was a fantastic day, but at the same time, it would also prove to be very unfortunate for us. We had our own people doing the engines in our car whereas the factory cars had engines from AER. Alec told us that if we gave them our engine, we could have the same engines as the works team for free. We had no choice really and AER were able to benefit from all the work our engine guys had put in and built a better specification motor. In the end, we lost out as we found ourselves being turned down and the engine guy who was put on our car just wasn’t very good.

Matt Neal

We did some races in Europe and I think Matt’s win at Estoril was the last for a Super Touring Car in Europe. This was when that era was drawing to a close and Richard West had taken control of the BTCC from Alan Gow and new rules were coming in, so it was all change for 2001.

By now, Vic had been released from prison and he had been working on something with Peugeot. Steve Soper was involved so Matt agreed to drive but the whole thing wasn’t very nice. Matt left early as the car was shit, and it nearly killed Steve when he had an accident later in the season that ended his career.

Inside BTCC:
Matt moved away for a while with Vauxhall and Honda and that was when things took a turn again.

Steve Neal:
Matt spent a year with Vauxhall before switching to the Hondas that were being run by Mike Earle and Arena, and then we took them on ourselves in 2004.

At the end of the season, I was in the USA at a show and saw this Acura Integra sitting on a stand. I took a look at it and could see that it was basically a Civic with a different body on it. It was the perfect touring car.

Alan Gow was now back in control of the championship and had made some tweaks to the rules that meant that a car didn’t have to be on sale in the UK anymore to be eligible. I bought two cars, shipped them over and then we put the bits from the Civic into them.

Truth be told, what Mike had done was very good – it just hadn’t been executed very well. We built a car that was better, and was almost impregnable. Jason tried to do everything he could to push Matt off and to destroy the car but he came out on top in 2005 and then did it again the next year.

It was a fantastic achievement and all the emotions came out when he defended the title because of the heartache and hard work that had come before.

Inside BTCC:
So do you think it’s easier or harder to run Matt in a car given the relationship between you?

Steve Neal:
I don’t see a lot of difference now to be honest. With all the years we’ve been doing it, you get hardened to things and it’s the same with Gordon to an extent now. He came along to us in 2006 when he was a raw rookie and Matt took him under his wing and helped to bring him on. Now he is almost like a second son, the only difference is that he can escape me sometimes whereas Matt gets stuck with me all the time! The pair of them are very close which is good, and they do a lot together. Even when there is a mishap, like Snetterton, there is no ill feeling from it.

Inside BTCC:
Has his longevity surprised you?

Steve Neal:
Not really, and he’s going to be around for a long time to come yet. Matt is more of a businessman than I ever was, and I think that will serve him well going forwards when he finally decides to hang up his helmet; although I don’t think that will be soon.

He isn’t a youngster anymore but is still very fit for his age and is doing what he loves. He knows that Gordon is younger and quicker than him, but while he is still enjoying it, he’ll continue. Maybe when that enjoyment isn’t there, that is the time when he will take a step back to focus on running the team and I know there are drivers he has his eye on when that time comes.

Matt Neal

A few years back, I gave the team to Matt and Barry as they needed something for the future and they work well. With the experience of Eddie Hinckley and with Gordon, there is a core team there that can continue to enjoy success for years to come. Gordon for example is 12 years younger than Matt and he could be a champion in the BTCC for the next decade.

Inside BTCC:
Do you see elements of yourself in Matt?

Steve Neal:
I do. When I was younger, my father wasn’t very supportive of my motorsport as he was into horse racing. I don’t think he even knew I did it for ten years, which may have been for the best. I love motorsport, and it’s great to have been able to help Matt both financially and in terms of moral support across the years. To work together and to achieve what we have achieved has been fantastic.

Inside BTCC:
What do you see as the defining moment of his career?

Steve Neal:
Even though he won back-to-back titles, and then added a third, everyone will always think of that race at Donington Park with the £250,000.

To be honest, that will probably stand as the defining moment of his career as that is when he really got recognition as a BTCC driver; it was when he became known. It wasn’t always a smooth road to get there, and things weren’t always that good to support his racing and to do what we wanted to do, but that has to be a high.

Matt Neal

Inside BTCC:
What do you think the future holds?

Steve Neal:
Well like I said, he still isn’t finished in the BTCC yet, but his sons are now racing as well as there is also a growing interest in historics; I can see that being something big for the future. As well as racing them like him and Gordon do now, it’s something that makes sense on a business level as well, because some of the classic cars are going up in value and it is a way in which he can make money from motorsport in other ways.

Whatever he does in the future, Matt has that maverick streak that will help him go far when the time finally does come around to hang up his helmet.

[Images credit: PSP Images, MINI & Network Images]

1st February 2016 Civic, Journal, Latest, News, Newsflash

Autocar Honda Civic Type R long-term test review

29 January 2016
Credit: Autocar

As much as I’d like to forget the experience, I all too vividly remember the last time I went to a nightclub. Specifically, I recall that sinking feeling as it dawned on me that I was far too old for that kind of racket.

I got a flashback to that sensation on my first acquaintance with our new Honda Civic Type R under the stark, unforgiving strip lights of Autocar’s multi-storey car park.

I still love the idea of hot hatchbacks that are quick enough to scorch the asphalt upon which they drive, but I’m the wrong side of 40 and can’t help but worry that this might be a car aimed at keen drivers of a younger vintage. As you’ll see from the picture above, I’m more at home in a Japanese peace garden than a Japanese banzai hatch.

I mean, just look at it. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but it’s impossible to slip down to the shops to buy crumpets and Ovaltine without drawing attention to yourself. You’d be less conspicuous wearing Borat’s mankini to a wedding.

I haven’t got time to justify the presence of those ostentatious wings, fins and splitters by explaining to each person who tuts and rolls their eyes that they add real aerodynamic effect (albeit perhaps not at town centre speeds).

It isn’t just the looks that make me worry that the marriage between the new Civic Type R and I could be a tempestuous one.

As I awkwardly try to reverse my hind quarters over the lip of the bucket seat, it dawns on me that the Type R was probably designed to accommodate drivers with more slender and agile physiques than mine.

Like a gruff nightclub bouncer turning away hopefuls because he suspects their mere presence inside his venue is going to be an atmosphere quencher, the Civic Type R appears to be saying: “If you can’t even get in, you’re too old.”

And it might have a point. I gripe and groan like a grandma as I discover that the thinly cushioned sports seat pinches me a bit around the upper back area and lacks sufficient adjustment for me to get truly comfortable.

I faff at adjusting the thick-rimmed, sporty steering wheel to a position I prefer, only to find that while it allows a perfect view of the rev counter, that chunky rim obscures the digital speed readout on the top of the dashboard, and Honda doesn’t believe in an old-school analogue speedo. “What speed was I doing, officer? About 3750rpm in sixth, as it happens.”

As first dates go, this one has gotten off to an awkward start. I press the starter button to the left of the steering wheel, snick into gear and set off. Only then do I begin to get it.

The effect of driving the Type R is akin to that of a youth-restoring elixir. Synapses crackle, neurons pulse and the driving enthusiast that’s hard-wired into me fires back to life. Those gripes and reservations described above? Forgotten and forgiven within the first couple of miles.

By the time I reach a quieter stretch of open road, I’m wide-eyed and fully awake. I give the throttle a cursory prod and ohmygodthisthingisquick. My fast driving skills are on a par with those of Gordon the Gopher, but this car is making me feel like BTCC champ Gordon Shedden. And I haven’t even dared to press the vampish red ‘+R’ button that sharpens and stiffens the suspension and steering like automotive Viagra.

I rapidly warm to the prospect of living with the Honda. The question is whether I can keep up with it, or exploit anything like its full capabilities. Indeed, back at home, my pulse rate normal and the hairs on the back of my neck now subsided, I think more soberly about what we intend to learn from our Civic Type R over the coming months.

Among the key questions to be answered will be whether this Japanese rocket, which gamely routes its 306bhp through the front axle alone, is a match for the class-standard, all-wheel-driveVolkswagen Golf R.

It certainly needs to be, because our Honda – an upper-class GT model, which means it has a host of kit on top of the already comprehensive standard spec – comes in at £32,820 once our sole option of metallic gunmetal grey paint (£525) is included.

The starting price of a five-door, six-speed manual Golf R is £31,475. That’s devoid of options but enough to turn the heads of hot hatch fans, and it’s not as if the VW is spartan inside as it is.

That’s just the start of the challenge facing the Civic Type R. During our time with the car, we’ll also become well acquainted with the new Ford Focus RS, another highly credible and competitively priced pretender to the hot hatch throne.

Then there’s that new turbocharged engine under this Honda’s bonnet. Sure, we’re anticipating improved miles per gallon and reduced emissions compared with the VTECs of the past, but does it still sparkle and thrill like those fantastic normally aspirated units?

Does the Honda make financial and practical sense in the face of its broadening glut of rivals? Can we find merit in the Type R’s raucous nature, or is it a thuggish one-trick pony that’s too compromised for everyday life? Does it invoke smiles of joy or scowls of frustration, or a mix of both?

The next six months will answer those questions and either reinforce my impending mid-life crisis or rejuvenate my passion for the type of brazen hot hatches I lusted after (but was too poor to afford) in the 1990s.

The car: Honda Civic Type R

Needs to: Be fun to drive, but practical enough to live with every day

Run by Autocar since: January 2016

Honda Civic Type R 2.0 i-VTEC GT

Price £32,295; Price as tested £32,820; Options Polished metal paint £525; Faults None; Expenses None

Honda Named Most Reliable Manufacturer

Honda Named Most Reliable Manufacturer in Survey of Over 30,000 European Drivers

  • Honda rated as the most reliable car manufacturer by Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) survey
  • Honda Jazz least likely to spend time in the garage, while Civic, CR-V and Insight also rated highly
  • Over 30,000 European Drivers surveyed on 178 different models
  • Survey focused on reliability and experiences of European motorists

A survey carried out by Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU), of over 30,000 European drivers focusing on the reliability of over 178 different models has found that customers rate Honda as the most reliable car brand.

Overall, Honda ranked top of the survey, receiving a reliability rating of 93/100 and with further 79% of survey respondents saying that they would recommend a Honda vehicle. The Honda Jazz was rated as the top car in terms of reliability in the “utility” vehicles category. Other Honda models were also highly rated with the Civic, CR-V and Insight placing in the top 10 of most reliable cars in their respective categories.

2015 Honda Jazz

2015 Honda Jazz










Price, fuel consumption, practicality and reliability are key considerations for consumers when buying a car. The OCU survey focused on reliability to find out if owners had experienced breakdowns in the past year and to find out the type of problems drivers had experienced. From this data they established a reliability index which can be used to compare the likelihood of a breakdown between different makes and models on the market.

2015 Civic Sport

2015 Civic Sport










“Reliability and quality are synonymous with the Honda brand,” says Honda Motor Europe’s senior vice president, Philip Ross. “The results of the survey highlight the importance of the quality commitments Honda has made to its customers. It is important for Honda to ensure that customers can experience the joy of owning a Honda vehicle and enjoy driving them with the peace of mind that the cars are among the least likely to experience breakdowns.”

More information about the survey can be found at:

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