The Honda Yuasa Racing Team returned to winning ways in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with two victories at Rockingham last weekend.
Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden took his seventh and eighth wins of 2012 to take the lead in the drivers’ table, while Matt Neal overcame a hand injury to score two podium finishes.
After qualifying second, Shedden chased home the similar NGTC Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan to finish third in the first dry race, three places ahead of Neal, who was involved in several close battles.
When the rain arrived ahead of race two, things got even better as the Civic’s chassis came into its own.
After a careful start, Shedden worked his way up to second and took the lead when Jordan made a mistake at Deene after a restart.
Neal also made progress through the field, reaching second on lap eight of 18.
Such was the dominance of the Civics that Shedden was able to slow down and allow Neal to overtake him to score an extra point for leading a lap before Neal slotted back in behind.
Starting eighth and ninth for the reversed-grid race, and with 45kg and 36kg of success ballast respectively, Shedden and Neal had a lot of work to do. But a fantastic opening lap by Neal got him to second, while Shedden soon fought his way through the field too.
They moved into first and second before battling for the win, and running side-by-side on the high-speed banking. Flash it was who won out, heading another Honda Yuasa Racing one-two.
“That was a much better weekend than we expected,” said Shedden. “If you get two one-twos it’s a good weekend!
“As soon as it rains we can show we have a great chassis.”
Shedden also pointed out that his race three battle with Neal demonstrated how much each respects the other. “We went side-by-side through Turn 1 at Rockingham in the wet!” he added. “That shows how much we trust each other.”
Neal was also happy with his performances while driving with a strapped right hand. “After qualifying it looked ominous and I thought we would really lose a chunk of our points lead,” he said.
“The MG was strong all day, but the wet plays to our strengths.
“We had three very strong finishes for the manufacturers’ and teams’ championships, and it hasn’t done me or Gordon any harm either.”
Shedden now leads Neal by just three points in the drivers’ standings and is 32 clear of the best non-Honda driver, while the squad comfortably heads the manufacturers’ and teams’ tables.
The Honda Yuasa Racing Team’s next outing takes them to Silverstone, scene of the climax to their successful 2011 campaign, on October 6-7.