Meet the drivers

Rewards talks touring cars with Matt and Flash

Honda drivers

We're at the end of the 2013 season, and Honda drivers Gordon and Matt have secured a great final result of second and fourth place in the championship – with the Honda Yuasa team winning both the teams’ and manufacturers’ crowns for the fourth consecutive year.

Rewards takes five to catch up with the team’s dynamic duo – drivers Matt Neal, pictured left, and Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden, pictured far left – as they give us the lowdown on life behind the wheel.

Q: What prompted you both to pursue a racing career?+

Gordon Shedden, carGordon: I guess I was your typical schoolboy, with a passion for cars and a never-say-die attitude. I don't have any family history in motorsport – but, from watching the BTCC with my dad at Knockhill, I set my goal to try and become a racing driver.

Through a lot of hard work, and many trials and tribulations, I’ve somehow made it to BTCC and I truly am living my dream. I'm a very lucky boy.

 

Matt Neal, carMatt: To be honest it’s all I can ever remember wanting to do. I never thought I’d actually make it – but it was my dream, and amazingly that dream came true.

I think that to get to the top in any sport it needs to be in your heart as well as your head – and that passion helps drive you, when things aren’t going your way.

Q: Do you have any particular routines you stick to on race day?+

Any mascots, or lucky items of clothing?

Gordon Shedden, pole positionGordon: Not massively – however, I always end up with a favourite race suit, helmet or gloves as the year goes on. Oh, and Yoda is an ever-present mascot in the Honda garage!

Matt: On race weekends I am annoyingly superstitious! Lucky clothes, routines, you name it – I drive myself nuts sometimes.

Q: It's quite a physically demanding job – do you follow any fitness regimes?+

Gordon: I train in some way nearly every day – gym work, cycling and also riding motorbikes. For me, it's as much about training the mind as it is the body.

Honda drivers, podium

Matt: I train pretty hard and have done so since I was younger – it’s a way of life for me. I do martial arts and other gym work, and enjoy the challenge as well as keeping in shape.

Q: Tell us about your hobbies and interests when out of the driving seat.+

Matt Neal, helmetGordon: My hobbies are bikes. I’ve got a Fireblade which I do trackdays on, a road bike, and also my bicycle. I love getting out on the open road and enjoying the spectacular scenery in Scotland.

It's also nice to chill out and not do very much every so often – it's quite a fast-paced life I live.

Matt: Time is pretty precious, so I enjoy any I get spending time with my family. Besides that, it’s keeping fit (martial arts), rugby (just watching these days!) and video gaming to switch off.

Q: What would be your ultimate road trip – and what would be the soundtrack?+

Gordon: My ultimate road trip would be Los Angeles to Las Vegas – and the soundtrack would be
‘18 months’ by Calvin Harris.

Matt Neal on the track

Matt: Mine would be driving across the States on chopper bikes – which I’ve done before with some pals, loved, and would do again tomorrow.

Q: Which three people would you invite to a dinner party – and why?+

Matt Neal, Gordon SheddenGordon: Billy Connolly, James Hunt and Rihanna – why not?

Matt: Of all time, it would have to be Elvis, JFK and Marilyn Monroe. For no specific reason – I just think that they’re three cool intriguing people with lots of secrets!

Q: What’s the best thing about your job?+

Gordon: Everything! I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Honda drivers, Honda tent

Matt: Meeting people from all walks of life and travelling the world. Driving fast cars for a living in glamorous surroundings is also a fairly major part as well!

Q: Any top tips you'd give to aspiring racing drivers?+

Gordon: I think it's important to set your goals high – but also be realistic. Hard work can pay off, but there's no pot of gold – so understanding the commercial side of motorsport, and engaging with sponsors, is as important as the driving. You can't have one without the other.

Honda drivers, podium

Matt: Follow your dream, but stay realistic and always keep one foot on the ground – appreciate the people around you, and give them proper time. Be aware that 95% of success is actually failure, hard work and tears – but that other 5% makes up for everything.

If you can keep your drive, focus and enthusiasm through those tough times, then they’ll model you as a person.