By now, the Honda team has not only finished building the new Civic NGTC – shorthand for Next-Generation Touring Car – but it has completed initial systems testing, carried out its first on-track shakedown and released these images to tell the tale. With everything running smoothly so far, the team is gearing up for further testing before the 2012 championship kicks off at Brands Hatch on April 1. That's when Neal and Gordon "Flash" Shedden will campaign the new Civic NGTC against a vicious field of rivals driving Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Audi, BMW, Toyota and Proton racers. Heck, there's even the new MG MG6 GT...but not Chevrolet.
We'll be watching keenly to see if Neal and Shedden can defend Honda's title, but for now, you can check out the high-res images in the gallery above and the press release after the jump to see how their new ride is shaping up.
The Honda Racing Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team are putting the new Civic Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) through its paces at its first public test outing at Brands Hatch today (21 February 2012).
Both Gordon 'Flash' Shedden and triple-BTCC champion Matt Neal will be pushing the car to the limit to make it is as competitive as possible ahead of the season debut on 1 April 2012.
The testing at Brands Hatch follows a successful preliminary test at the MIRA test track last week where the car underwent extensive system checks to ensure it is fully functional. Matt Neal and the Honda Racing team spent Friday acclimatising to the car and making sure it's safe and ready for track testing.
Matt Neal commented; "This is the first opportunity we have had to get behind the wheel to really see what the car has got. The team are really pleased with the results from the test at MIRA last week and I can't wait to finally start putting the car through its paces.
"It will be interesting to see how the car performs, but I'm optimistic that we'll walk away from today confident we have a championship winning car."
Gordon 'Flash' Shedden added; "The feedback on the new Civic NGTC car so far is incredibly promising and I've been itching to get into the car since the end of the 2011 season. Like Matt mentioned, this is the first time we have had to really push the car and I'm looking forward to putting it into action."
Team Manager, Peter Crolla, concluded; "The team have all been working incredibly hard since the start of the NGTC programme back in August so everybody's very excited to see the new car on track for the first time. It'll be interesting from the point of view of both drivers and engineers to see how the car behaves on a track where we were very competitive with the S2000 Civic and we can really start to understand and develop the new car.
"The main aim for the day will be to establish a baseline set-up for the car which we can then tune for the various circuits we visit during the season. Initial feedback from the MIRA shakedown was positive so we're hoping to continue that today and cover some valuable mileage with both Matt and Gordon behind the wheel".
The next testing session takes place at Donington Park circuit on Thursday 23 February.