Honda Yuasa Racing had one of its best weekends yet in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, taking all three wins and moving Honda to the top of every points table.
Despite being the only NGTC cars not to get extra turbo boost under the BTCC’s equalisation system, the Civics were well suited to the high-speed circuit.
Reigning champion Gordon Shedden qualified second, just ahead of team-mate Matt Neal, while the Pirtek Racing-run Civic took pole position in the hands of Andrew Jordan.
“The car just comes into its own in the fast stuff,” said Neal. “You’ve still got to hang on to it, but when you look at the other cars you think ‘thank goodness I’m in a Honda!’”
Shedden jumped Jordan at the start of race one to lead, with Neal in fourth, but contact with MG rival Jason Plato sent Shedden spinning off the track.
Jordan and Neal took up the running at the front and triple champion Neal secured his 50th BTCC victory when the Pirtek Racing Civic suffered a front-left puncture on the final lap.
Neal then followed that up with a peerless performance in the second race, leading from pole and fending off Plato’s early attack despite a safety car intervention.
Shedden also starred, putting on the sort of charge from row 13 that is becoming his trademark. A small mistake from Jordan while trying to pass Tom Onslow-Cole’s Volkswagen Passat on the last lap allowed the number one Civic to snatch third.
Shedden continued the overtaking in the reversed-grid finale, quickly moving to fourth before chasing after the leaders.
He made it up to second and was closing on Plato for the lead when the MG suffered a puncture of its own, leaving Shedden to take his 31st BTCC victory.
Neal completed a fine weekend for himself and Honda by coming through to second, while Jordan made it three Hondas on the podium. Only an unfortunate spin for Pirtek Racing’s Jeff Smith prevented a Civic 1-2-3-4!
“Your first BTCC win is always special, but I’m really stoked about the two wins this weekend,” said Neal, who now leads the drivers’ table by 13 points from Jordan.
“To get two wins and a 1-2-3 for Honda in the third race – it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Shedden was disappointed with the race-one clash, but pleased with his and the car’s performance.
“I’d rather not have to do these start-from-the-back jobs!” he said. “Twenty-fifth to third in race two was pretty decent, and then to win from seventh in race three was a good job.
“It’s the ups and downs of touring cars and I definitely want to defend my title. I had to dig deep today and I did.
“The car was really good; I could carry some real corner speed and the guys have done a great job. You can see we have a great handling car.”
As well as moving Neal to the top of the drivers’ championship, the Thruxton results have also put the squad into the lead of the manufacturers’ and teams’ championships.
Honda Yuasa Racing will now be hard at work to keep improving the cars before the BTCC moves to Oulton Park on June 8-9.