- Gordon Shedden tops the title table heading to Oulton Park
- Honda Yuasa Racing ahead in the manufacturers’ standings
- Matt Neal makes up 19 places in final race of the day
A strong performance in the third outing of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton means Honda Yuasa Racing will head to Oulton Park atop the manufacturers’ title chase, with Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal respectively first and third in the drivers’ standings.
From second and third on the grid and carrying hefty ballast, the first race of the day around the ultra-quick Hampshire circuit saw Shedden and Neal both leapfrog pole-sitter Árón Smith to dominate throughout, clinching Honda Yuasa Racing’s first one-two of the campaign as ‘Flash’ secured his second season success.
While Neal retired from the second encounter following an unavoidable clash with Smith as they duelled over fourth – albeit not before setting fastest lap – Shedden sped to an excellent third place, threatening the leaders over the first half until his tyres began to fade and thereafter consolidating his position.
The Scot added to that with fifth in the weekend’s third and final showdown, meaning he now holds an eight-point championship lead, while three-time BTCC Champion Neal unquestionably stole the show as he stormed through the pack from 25th and last on the starting grid to take the chequered flag a superb sixth. The 48-year-old sits third in the points table.
“We did a cracking job in qualifying, and that set us up nicely for Sunday,” said Shedden. “The car was perfectly-balanced in race trim, even with the weight on-board, and in the first one I used the strengths of the Civic Type R to pull away. To get a podium with maximum ballast in race two was awesome – we were really chuffed with that – and to then conclude the weekend with more solid points in race three was a real bonus. As championship leader, I’ll go to Oulton with a whole load of weight in the car, but we’ll worry about that in a little while…”
“To put both cars inside the top three in qualifying definitely exceeded our expectations,” echoed Neal. “In race one, I tried to get a quick lap in early on and then look after my tyres given that I was carrying maximum ballast. The incident in race two was just unfortunate; Árón braked a lot earlier than usual and I tried to avoid him but he turned in, which broke my suspension. The boys did a terrific job to get the car repaired for race three, which was fun but frustrating at the same time. It was enjoyable fighting my way through, but I was constantly tucked up behind other drivers, so I couldn’t exploit the Civic Type R’s full potential. Still, both ‘Flash’ and I are very strongly placed in the championship, so it’s game on!”
“Honda Civics have always gone well at Thruxton, and after qualifying, we set the cars up to manage the ballast situation in race one,” summarised team principal James Rodgers. “To come out of it with our first one-two of the year at Honda’s home track was a dream result and means we’ve won at every circuit so far this season. ‘Flash’ performed brilliantly to secure a podium whilst carrying maximum weight in race two, and Matt’s drive in race three was arguably the performance of the weekend. The Civic Type R just keeps on getting better, and I know we say it every time, but there is plenty more still to come.”