The Honda Yuasa Racing team increased its advantage at the top of three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title fights after another strong weekend at Croft.
The North Yorkshire venue has always suited rear-wheel-drive rivals and did so again, but Honda Yuasa stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden still managed to come away with four podiums between them in their front-wheel-drive Civics.
Neal was particularly impressive in qualifying, going third fastest despite running 45kg of success ballast, while Shedden bounced back from an early off to end up fourth.
Triple champion Neal swiftly moved through to second in race one and Shedden was soon shadowing him, the Civics finishing in formation behind Colin Turkington’s BMW.
Race two was damp and a set-up tweak didn’t quite work for Neal. He still managed to finish fourth, while Shedden chased Turkington throughout to take the runner-up spot.
Neal took control of the final event, run in very wet conditions, and held Turkington off to win despite two moments on the final lap. Shedden had an early excursion but recovered to fourth to score more useful points.
“I was pretty relieved to see the end of race three,” said victor Neal. “Early on it was about seeing who was around you so you could work out their strengths and weaknesses.
“I wanted to get to the front to get some clean air and hopefully stay out of trouble.”
Shedden was happy to avoid the bad luck that dogged the early part of his season.
“We didn’t have the pace of the BMWs in the dry, but in the wet we were right there,” he said.
“Matt did a good job from where he was in race three and the [success] ballast hurt me a bit. I think a lot of it was to do with where you were at the start and Matt made a couple of places.”
Neal now leads Pirtek Racing Honda driver Andrew Jordan by 19 points heading into the BTCC’s summer break, with Shedden another 17 points behind in fourth.
At the same time Honda extended its lead in the manufacturers’ table, while Honda Yuasa Racing also has a healthy gap at the top of the teams’ championship.
“Gordon’s had a strong weekend as well so it’s good for us in the teams’ and manufacturers’ championships,” added Neal. “And it hasn’t done us any harm in the drivers’ table.”
BTCC fans will now have to wait until August 3-4 before the next round at Snetterton.