Honda Yuasa Racing Team stars Matt Neal and Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden extended their advantage in the 2012 MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship with another two wins at Croft last weekend.
Reigning champion Neal took his first pole of the season with a sensational 1m24.900s lap, the only driver under the 1m25s barrier. He led a Honda Civic one-two-three, with the Pirtek/Eurotech example second ahead of Shedden.
Shedden and Jordan jumped Neal early on, but the triple champion worked his way back to the front and held off Rob Collard to secure victory and take the lead in the standings.
Shedden came home third and, with a tweaked set-up, was even stronger in race two. Now carrying 27kg of success ballast instead of 45kg (and with Neal on 45kg instead of 36kg), Shedden overtook Neal early on as he headed for his sixth victory of 2012.
Despite suffering with a misfire and brake issues, Neal held on for a fine second, but Shedden snatched the lead back in the drivers’ standings.
Neal and Shedden started ninth and tenth respectively in the reversed-grid finale. They charged through the pack, but were prevented from getting on the podium as incidents caused two safety car periods. Fourth was nevertheless enough to move Neal back into the lead of the championship as the BTCC heads into its long summer break.
“The weekend has been great,” said Neal. “I didn’t expect pole and it was great to convert race one. Race two I was a little bit of a walking wounded. In race three the car felt great and I think we could have finished on the podium, but it was chaos out there.
“Two wins is great for the team and we increased our lead in the teams’ and manufacturers’ championships. It’s great to go into the break with a bit of bragging rights.”
Shedden also felt race three was a little too incident-packed, but was pleased with his points haul. “The car has been good, we’ve battled hard and we’ve made the best of what we can,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough seven weeks [until the next round], we’re going to have to improve because everyone is going faster and faster. If we don’t improve, we’ll go backwards.
“Matt went with a different theory on set-up in race one. I had the option of it and didn’t go with it and his hooked up a bit better.”
Just one point separates Neal and Shedden at the top of the table, with arch rival Jason Plato 29 points off the lead.
The Honda Yuasa Racing Team now has a long wait until the next BTCC round, at Snetterton, on August 11-12.