Blog - Classic

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: https://www.ocu.org/organizacion/prensa/press-releases/2014/fiabilidad-auto

30th January 2016 Uncategorized

Matt Simpson signs BTCC deal with Speedworks

Credit: BTCC.net
Simpson_Honda

Speedworks Motorsport has announced the first of its drivers for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign, with multiple Quaife Intermarque and European Hot Rod Champion Matt Simpson graduating to the UK’s premier series in a newly-built Honda Civic Type R.

Simpson is a two-time European Hot Rod Champion, a former runner-up on the World Championship stage and more recently a double Quaife Intermarque title-winner. The 34-year-old recently tested a Civic Type R at Donington Park, and despite enjoying the experience enormously he is under no illusions as to the huge challenge ahead.

“BTCC cars are heavier and more powerful than what I’ve been accustomed to,” acknowledged the West Drayton ace, who will also be eligible for the Jack Sears Trophy for newcomers. “I also have to get used to dealing with front-wheel-drive so I know it will be a steep learning curve in the first year, but the BTCC is the next step and the pinnacle of saloon car racing.

“Obviously my aim is to be BTCC Champion one day, although that won’t happen overnight, and for the time being I’m just looking forward to settling into the series and getting to grips with the famously cut-and-thrust nature of touring car racing. If we can consistently improve and edge closer to the front of the grid as the season progresses, hopefully by the end of it we can be scoring some strong finishes.”

Simpson’s Honda will initially run under the Simpson Race Exhausts banner alongside Speedworks’ Toyota Avensis, whose driver will be confirmed in due course.

This year witnessed a genuine breakthrough for Speedworks, as in its fifth season in the all-action, ITV4 live-televised BTCC, the plucky independent squad achieved its maiden podium finish when Tom Ingram piloted its heavily-revised machine to runner-up spoils at Rockingham, following a captivating duel for victory with two-time champion Jason Plato.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar enjoyed the experience so much that he replicated the result in the Brands Hatch finale a month later. Buoyed by its tremendously popular success, Speedworks is doubling up in 2016 after acquiring a second TBL (TOCA BTCC Licence) and adding a Team Dynamics-supplied Civic Type R to its stable – meaning Simpson will be behind the wheel of the same model of car as that which propelled Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden to the title this season.

“We are absolutely delighted to be expanding our presence on the BTCC grid, which will make Speedworks a more potent force than ever before,” contended the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s team principal Christian Dick. “I am extremely pleased that Matt and his family are coming on-board with us, as we have known them for a while now and have been watching Matt’s progress with great interest. We’re sure that we can get the best out of him and deliver a solid package.

“Due in no small part to Team Dynamics being the most successful BTCC team in the paddock, we have entered into an agreement with them to produce for us a new NGTC Honda Civic Type R, with components used in 2015 and to the same specification as their championship-winning car. This agreement also extends to downstream technical support, and we are looking forward to working with them over the coming years and forging a strong partnership.”

Keep in touch with Matt and the team via the following social media feeds:

Matt Simpson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MattSimpsonMotorsport
Twitter: @Mattsimpson303

Simpson Exhausts
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SimpsonRaceExhausts
Twitter: @SimpsonExhausts
Instagram: simpsonraceexhausts

Matt Simpson enters the BTCC in 2016.

Honda Type R story: Road to the red zone

The book tells the story of the Type R brand; cars made for those passionate about the thrill of driving.

The book is available worldwide, the shipping costs are the same, 12 € for all countries (except France).

We begin in a small village at the foot of Mt Fuji to retrace the life of a little boy that didn’t think like the others, and who created – a few years later – a giant of the automotive industry: The Honda Motor Company.

Through his exceptional success story, we’ll discover the advent of the sportiest Honda cars; from the first NSX to the 2015 Civic Type R.

With anecdotes, exclusive photographs, interviews, technical specifications and a unique insight from an enthusiast’s perspective, I will guarantee that this will be an invigorating read.

The book is an illuminating narrative, written by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts who see cars as an object of pleasure, and not just as a means of getting from A to B.

Below is an unfinished extract from the book. The book’s content will be dual language, English & French.

To preorder the new book, please visit the following URL:

http://www.ulule.com/type-r-livre/

What are the funds for?

I don’t have a publishing house working with me on this project as they’re not crazy enough! I’m doing this with small team.To understand the book to a degree where I would want to buy it, I knew I needed to be surrounded by people who are as passionate as I am. There are now thirteen people working on it!

It’s been a risk to personally bear all of the operating costs (design, graphics, correction, translation, linguist & travel).

With almost 18,000 Euros invested in the project so far, if I do not acquire enough orders to print the book, the team will be paid as agreed.

The justification of the crowdfunding is to make sure the printing of the book happens.

I have chosen to use a well known European printer (Escourbiac), who can offer the best type of materials to make sure the book has the quality feel it deserves.

During discussions on the French forums, a final price of €45 Euros was agreed for European orders (excluding delivery).

For us to achieve this price point, an initial order of 500 books would have to be placed. The book would not make the project a profit until around 950 orders have been placed.

This project is something I care about deeply and therefore I propose to you (on Ulule only) that the price to acquire the book will have a special price of €39 (excluding delivery) for European orders.

If the orders of the book exceed 1000 units, then instead of giving you back some Euro’s, I will be offering additional content, which will be obtained from a trip to Japan in the near future, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

If the campaign is successful, and I truly hope it is, I will be offering a financial bonus to my team for all of the hard work that I have asked of them for the duration of this project. If it doesn’t work, I’ll offer you a new campaign with a lower goal but with a higher price.

I am pleased to introduce to you my wonderful team.
 

About the project owner

Lionel Lucas, 32 years old.In addition to my daily career as a civil engineer, I’ve  also been a blogger the French website Caradisiac since 2006.With regards Type R’s, I think I loved them from the moment I knew they existed.

When Honda stopped selling the Type R in Europe in 2010, I had the thought to begin writing this book, and to celebrate the planned return of the Type R brand to Europe, I started this project just over a year ago.

I have to honest and say that this book provides a certain element of therapy for me. After many years of driving iconic cars such as Peugeot Rallye’s, Clio Cups and Civic Type R’s, I almost lost my licence, and realising that I had paid out more than €2500 euros in fines, I took a moment of reflection and purchased a hybrid car.

I must admit that my behaviour during this period changed. I believe that we can take pleasure in driving on the road whilst being completely responsible. There is a time for everything.

For me it is a matter of balance, self control and responsibility.

The sheer thrill of driving is something that we must relish in those exceptional moments, and through the reading of this book, I really hope I can share this philosophy with you.

29th January 2016 Journal, Media, Press Releases, Uncategorized

Tuners give new twist on Civic Type R at Tokyo Auto Salon.

  • Japanese tuning houses Mugen and Modulo unveil their vision of Civic Type R at Tokyo Auto Salon
  • Tokyo Auto Salon is the world’s largest customised automobile show
  • Other Honda vehicles to feature include several versions of S660 roadster
  • Honda Racing to exhibit Super GT500 NSX CONCEPT-GT
  • Tokyo Auto Salon open to the public from 15-17 January

Amongst the concepts and special editions at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2016, tuners have turned their attention to the new Civic Type R to give their unique twist on the race car for the road.

The event is the world’s largest customised automobile show, with thousands attending to see radical versions of some of the best-selling cars in Japan and globally.

Mugen Civic Type R concept
Famous for making many adaptations of best-selling Honda models, tuning house Mugen has taken the new Civic Type R (recently launched for sale in Japan) and added even more aggressive body styling to the package.

The concept adds a revised front bumper with contrasting black parts around the lip and wheel arches. The black theme is continued through the rest of the car, with side and rear skirts giving an aggressive on road stance. The standard rear spoiler is replaced by a lighter, race car inspired design, again finished in black.

Modulo Civic Type R
Modulo have taken the standard Type R design, and added a revised body kit, with flared side skirts. The standard fuel filler cap has been replaced with one of a different design, while red body colour accents are used on the wing mirror covers and the sides of the rear spoiler.

Honda Racing at Tokyo Auto Salon
Honda Racing will exhibit a range of its challengers from 2015, including the McLaren-Honda MP4-30, the Super GT GT500 NSX CONCEPT-GT and Honda’s entry in the Japanese Super Formula series.

Other Honda exhibits at Tokyo Auto Salon

Modulo
STEP WGN Modulo Concept
Modulo S660 Study Model
Modulo S660 Drago Modulo Special Model
N-ONE Modulo X
N-BOX Modulo X
N-WGN Daily Luxe Collection + E500
Modulo FIT
Mugen
Mugen S660
Honda S660 MUGEN RA Prototype
Mugen STEP WGN Spada
Mugen Vezel

Honda Civic Type R Mugen

Honda Mugen S660

Honda NSX Super GT Concept.

12th November 2015 BTCC, Latest, News

BTCC Honda Yuasa Racing secures first motorsport title for new Civic Type R

The new Honda Civic Type R has this weekend added motorsport honours to its growing list of plaudits, as Honda Yuasa Racing clinched the drivers and manufacturers championship in the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in a tense final round at Brands Hatch.

Continuing the success story for the most high performance car ever to wear the red ‘H’ badge, the new Honda Civic Type R was developed with help from the brand’s World Touring Car Team. Vital analysis and feedback from the track informed decisions about performance and styling, supporting the British team to driver and manufacturer titles in its first competitive year.

The road-going version of the Civic Type R broke cover at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show back in March and with the Dunlop MSA British Touring Cars season kicking off just a few short weeks after, the Honda Yuasa Racing team required special assistance from Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) to ensure the car was ready to race.

Billed as a race car for the road, the aggressive hot hatch set the fastest time for a front wheel drive car around the legendary Nurburgring and has a total output of 310ps, a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph.

Gordon Shedden commented: “You’re only as good as the car you’re sat in, and the Honda Yuasa Racing guys have given me an amazing bit of kit all season. The Honda Civic Type R only came out this year, and we’ve won both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships.

“At the start of the season, because of the newness of the car, we had severely limited part

Honda wins BTCC drivers and manufacturers championships

Honda wins BTCC drivers and manufacturers championships

12th November 2015 Latest, News

Ricky Wilson gets exclusive tour of McLaren Technology Centre from Jenson Button

Ricky Wilson, lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs and Honda Civic Type R ambassador, spent today (Thursday 15th October) being given an exclusive guided tour of the McLaren Technology Centre by McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button, as well as taking on the McLaren F1 simulator.

In front of a huge crowd of fans on the Honda stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in June, Jenson invited The Voice coach and Radio X DJ to the state-of-the-art facility in Woking to see the production side of McLaren for both F1 and road cars but due to the pairs busy schedules the tour has only just been able to take place.

As well as taking in the state-of-the-art Formula One facility, the immaculate McLaren Road Car production line and the on-site wind tunnel, Ricky was put to the test in the F1 simulator. This is where Jenson prepares for each grand prix, learning the tracks and refining the car’s set-up for the weekend ahead. For Ricky, it was a baptism of fire – he was given a crash helmet and a pair of driving gloves before immediately being strapped into the cockpit for some super-fast laps of the Circuit Of The Americas, the venue for next week’s US Grand Prix.

“I am so glad Jenson had gone by the time I got into the simulator as I don’t think the boys at McLaren had ever seen anyone roll it before now,” said Ricky Wilson. “When it comes to toys; they don’t come any bigger or better than that and I feel extremely lucky to be one of the very few people to have experienced it. I thought my Civic Type R was quick but that is a whole new level.

“Becoming an ambassador for the Civic Type R has been fantastic and I’m doing some amazing things and going to some amazing places, like the MTC. From earning my race licence up at Knockhill with the 2015 BTCC champion Gordon Shedden to taking on the Goodwood hillclimb this summer at the Festival of Speed to now experiencing the wonder of the McLaren Technology Centre; every day I am loving it more and more!”

“It’s his turn to invite me to something now,” said Jenson Button. “He owes me VIP backstage passes to the next big gig he does and I am not taking no for an answer!”

“Signing Ricky to the Honda family was a fantastic decision,” said Phil Crossman, Managing Director of Honda UK, “Not only is he a rock star but he’s now a fully qualified racing driver with a race car for the road in the new Civic Type R. Jenson taking him around the McLaren Technology Centre can only serve to further fuel his passion for all things automotive.

“Plus I sincerely hope that Ricky will also provide me with me a couple of VIP backstage passes to his next gig!”

Ricky Wilson and Jenson Button at the MTC

Ricky Wilson and Jenson Button at the MTC

Ricky Wilson and Jenson Button at the MTC

Ricky Wilson and Jenson Button at the MTC

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