After a mixed opening round to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Honda Yuasa Racing stars Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal put in superb performances at Donington Park to move into title contention.
Reigning champion Shedden scored his first pole since 2011 and led the first race throughout in his Honda Civic to take his 30th BTCC victory.
As Shedden edged clear, Neal fought off the attentions of arch rival Jason Plato to take third. With the Pirtek Racing-run Civic of Andrew Jordan finishing second, it meant Honda locked out every spot on the podium.
Triple champion Neal celebrated his 500th BTCC start in race two with a fantastic battle involving Shedden and Plato.
Plato’s lighter MG eventually won the fight, but Honda still took victory thanks to Jordan. “I did what I could against Jason,” said Shedden, whose defence helped Jordan go clear.
Despite starting on the fragile soft tyres in the reversed-grid race, Shedden and Neal charged through from row four in a frantic and eventful race that included both Honda drivers avoiding a spinning rival in the high-speed Craner Curves.
Shedden snatched second from Sam Tordoff on the final lap, and Neal was able to follow him through.
Five podiums across the three races means that Neal and Shedden are now third and fifth in the drivers’ table respectively, while Honda is within one point of the lead in the manufacturer fight.
“To be on the podium three times is good,” said Shedden. “I don’t know how I got on the podium in race three because there were all sorts of shenanigans going on!
“It underlines the quality of the chassis. We’ve made a lot of progress and it was nice to get a good points haul.”
Neal was also happy with his 500 starts celebration meeting. “It was a good, strong weekend for us. It could have been better but we’ve come away with two straight cars and five podiums,” he said.
“In race three, I was mindful of the soft tyre – trying to look after it and press on.”
“It was a solid weekend and we both needed it. It’s also good for the manufacturers’ and teams’ championships. There was still good speed in the car.”
The Honda Yuasa Racing team’s next outing will be at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, where Shedden starred in the wet last season on his way to two victories, on May 4-5.