Heroic performances by Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden and Matt Neal at Silverstone resulted in a memorable win and two podiums, keeping their hopes alive in the race for the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Heading into the penultimate race meeting of the season, Pirtek Racing Honda Civic privateer Andrew Jordan led the title race by 30 points from Shedden, with Neal fourth.
Saturday’s dry sessions saw Neal finish 9th in qualifying and Shedden 15th, missing out on a faster time in the closing laps as his tyres faded. Neal’s weekend was destined to be difficult, but when the flag went down on Sunday’s first race, he made his intentions known with a brave display and some fine passing moves, crossing the finish line in third. Carrying 18kg more championship ballast than Neal, Shedden could only make his way up to 11th, while championship leader Jordan, carrying full ballast, consolidated his position with a solid sixth place.
With increased success ballast, it was a question of damage limitation for Neal in the second race, finishing sixth, just one place ahead of Shedden who was able to make up places despite another frustrating race.
For the final race of the day, Neal was drawn on pole and Shedden seventh. Into the race, however, and on the soft compound tyre, Shedden flew through the field, making his way up to second before the safety car was deployed to allow removal of debris on the track. On lap 14, after the restart, Shedden passed Turkington at Becketts, going on to take a fine and most welcome victory. Enjoying some close racing behind the leaders, Neal took a hard-fought third, joining Shedden on the podium for his second podium of the meeting.
Commenting on his turn in fortunes over the weekend, Shedden said: “The Civic absolutely came alive on the soft tyre. It’s been a tough weekend, but to get us both on the podium is a special way to finish the weekend, and we’re not quite done yet.”
Neal added: “It’s not quite the results we expected, and nothing’s over yet. It’s great that we’ve still got three Honda Civics up there, fighting for the championship.”
All eyes are now on to the Brands Hatch championship finale, which takes place on 12 and 13 October. With 67 points on offer, and after consolidating his position at Silverstone, championship leader Jordan now has a lead of 34 points over Neal, who is just one point ahead of Shedden in third. Honda Yuasa Racing is still leading both the teams’ and manufacturers’ titles.