Honda Yuasa Racing Takes Two Titles in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship
Honda Yuasa Racing won two Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship titles at the Brands Hatch finale last weekend.
The Honda Civics of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal secured both the teams' and manufacturers' crowns for the fourth consecutive year.
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Shedden and Neal were also in contention for the drivers' championship and narrowly missed out after an exciting final weekend.
Reigning champion Shedden arrived at the Grand Prix circuit just one point behind Neal and 35 down on leader Andrew Jordan.
Shedden qualified fourth in the dry and quickly moved up to second in the first wet race to keep his title hopes alive.
A tap from Tom Onslow-Cole's Ford sent Shedden sideways at the first corner of race two, Gordon produced a fantastic save as the field managed to miss him. With Jordan hitting trouble and Shedden recovering to seventh it meant the number one Civic still had a chance of taking the title going into the final race.
Shedden started from pole and did everything he could, leading from start to finish and holding off the challenge of Jack Goff's Vauxhall. But Jordan's ninth place finish was enough for the Pirtek Racing Honda driver to pip his Honda Yuasa Racing colleagues to the crown.
"It's great to win the teams' and manufacturers' championships," said Shedden. "It's testament to all the guys and a fantastic car. We've had a lot of ups and downs this year, but we've done everything we could".
Triple champion Neal had a more troubled weekend. Still nursing his finger injury, Neal then crashed in qualifying and had to start race one from 16th.
He bounced back superbly in the first encounter, charging to sixth to stay in the title race. But he was powerless to avoid an incident in race two when Aron Smith and Rob Collard collided ahead of Jordan and Neal.
"The car felt great and I was shadowing Andy," said Neal. "Then Aron turned Rob round and Andy jinked to avoid Rob and went into me. We clashed wheels and I was walking wounded after that".
Honda Yuasa Racing did a great job to get the fire-damaged Civic ready for race three, but with no window wipers in the wet conditions Neal found the going tough and had to settle for 14th.
There is now a break before winter testing for the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship gets under way.
Honda Yuasa Stars Give A Battling Display At Silverstone To Keep Title Hopes Alive
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.
Honda Yuasa Racing Battles Rockingham Misfortune
Honda Yuasa Racing ace 'Flash' Gordon Shedden jumped to second in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham last weekend as team-mate Matt Neal suffered a tough event.
Neal came into the Northamptonshire event with a narrow title lead over the Pirtek Racing run Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan, with Shedden third.
The Hondas topped the timesheets in damp practice, but things were more difficult in the dry, not helped by both Neal and Shedden having to run success ballast. Shedden qualified fifth, just behind Jordan, while Neal was seventh despite being within half a second of pole. With Pirtek Racing's Jeff Smith in sixth, it meant all four NGTC Honda Civics were in the top seven.
Race one was damp and Jordan, Shedden and Neal all moved forward in the early stages. But a spin during an early safety car period dropped Neal to the back, from which he could only recover to 14th.
'It was an error on my behalf,' said the triple champion. 'I got on a bit of oil and it pirouetted on me'
Up at the front, however, Shedden moved past Jason Plato's MG and narrowly missed out on a podium slot on the run to the line as his tyres faded.
Shedden overcame Jordan early in a dry race two and only lost out to Rob Austin, whose rear-wheel-drive Audi was well suited to the Rockingham circuit.
Neal did a superb job in the early stages to get up to fifth, but a steering problem sent him out of the race at Deene. Another fine recovery was better rewarded in the final race, Neal coming home seventh after starting on row 12.
Shedden was again in the mix at the front and eventually came home fifth. It means he is now up to second in the championship, 30 points behind Jordan. Neal's troubled weekend means he has fallen to fourth, but he is only four points behind Shedden and is still in contention with six races still to go.
Flash hasn't had a bad weekend and it's been positive for Andy', said Neal. 'He's in a Civic and it's great for him and that team. And we still have a good lead in the teams' and manufacturers' championships'.
'I thought we'd be okay, skirting around the edges of the podium. The pace in the car was good and in the damp and in race three I went from 24th to seventh with a wet set-up on the car in the dry. The weather forecast said rain would come at 5pm so we had everything softened off.
Andy's in a strong position, but there's still everything to play for. I'm not giving up and will go to Silverstone with a light car so we'll see what we can do with that.
Shedden added: 'It's been a good weekend. Matt and I have been evenly matched and we've scored good points. We tried a lot of things set-up wise but nothing quite had the desired effect and we can't quite put our finger on the reasons why at the moment'.
'It's going to be difficult, but I'm certainly not giving up the fight to retain this title, and Matt wants it back, so we'll work hard as a team to get that opportunity'.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car battle now moves to Silverstone at the end of the month.
Honda Yuasa Maintains Lead Despite Drama
Honda Yuasa Racing left Knockhill still topping all three tables in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship despite a challenging weekend in Scotland.
The tight circuit often favours rear-wheel-drive machines and, with both points leader Matt Neal and reigning champion Gordon Shedden carrying success ballast, the Honda Civics were up against things heading into qualifying.
But superb laps from local star Shedden and the experienced Neal put the two Honda Yuasa entries third and fifth on the grid.
Come the first race, Shedden brilliantly overtook the Audi of Rob Austin at Clark to secure second, finishing as the top front-wheel-drive runner, while Neal held off the Eurotech/Pirtek-run Civic of title rival Andrew Jordan to take seventh.
Shedden was again the best of the FWD machines in race two, coming home third behind double winner Colin Turkington and Austin as he just held off the BMW of Rob Collard to secure another podium. Neal, meanwhile, overcame old rival Jason Plato and again held back a charging Jordan to secure fifth.
Those results put Neal and Shedden into first and second in the drivers' table, just 10 points apart, but bad luck was to befall Shedden in the finale. A rare engine failure forced a spectacular fiery exit.
With Neal using his soft Dunlop tyre to pass Collard and finish second behind winner Jordan, Shedden fell back to third in the championship. Neal now leads Jordan by six points, with Shedden 27 points behind his triple champion team-mate.
"We got the Hondas up there, which is fantastic," said Neal. "I think that every point you get is vital whether it's a fifth place, a seventh, or the podium that we picked up in race three. You've just got to grab what you can because the competition is really tough.
"The track is tight and the pack was so close so it was really difficult to overtake. Our car felt absolutely great but we're still struggling a little in a straight line and of course the weight killed us."
"This championship could come down to the odd point so it's critical that we keep pushing for every result. I said before this weekend that Turkington could be the one to watch and we'd all be foolish to discount Plato too, but it's great to have three Civics in the top three of the championship."
Shedden was philosophical after being struck by bad luck once again in 2013. "I feel that I maximised what the car was capable of and the Civic felt really good all weekend," he said. "I couldn't ask for any more with 36kg on the car in race two. I tried my hardest but it just wasn't quite enough on this occasion.
"We had some engine temperature problems in race two and then the engine obviously blew in the final race. That's the first engine I've ever had blow in touring cars so I can't complain too much. It doesn't help with the points; it's all well and good having two good results but you need to convert results in all three races.
"Yet again I hauled myself back into championship contention but then straight back out of it in the space of an hour and a half! I've kept chipping away since Thruxton, so it's tough to take when you get within 10 or so points of the championship lead and then fall away again. There's still a lot of races to go though so we'll give it absolutely everything until the end of the season."
As well as holding first and third in the drivers' table, Honda Yuasa Racing and Honda/Team Dynamics lead the teams' and manufacturers' championships with just three BTCC meetings to go.
The next round will be at Rockingham on September 14-15.
Honda Yuasa Racing Heads to Scotland
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Matt Neal and Gordon 'Flash' Shedden will be in Scotland this weekend as their quest for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship continues.
Knockhill will host round seven of this year's 10-meeting BTCC season and Honda Civic drivers currently lie a remarkable first, second and third in the standings. Honda Yuasa's triple champion Neal leads, nine points ahead of the Pirtek Racing Civic of Andrew Jordan, while reigning champion Shedden is another 13 points back.
Shedden is looking forward to racing in front of his home fans and hopes to close the gap in the title race. "It's not so much traveling for me for once!" said the local.
"The Civic's handling is fantastic at the moment and it's doing everything I want it to do. We'll just go out there and give it 110 per cent, but the competition will be coming from all angles."
Shedden also believes the nature of the circuit means it is worth fans making the trip north.
"Knockhill is probably the polar opposite to Snetterton [scene of the last BTCC round] in terms of the length of track and the undulations," he added. "It always provides spectacular racing and it's great for the fans to see the cars bouncing over the kerbs and the drivers really having to work.
"It's an absolute rollercoaster and is a tricky circuit to learn - it's not as simple as it looks."
Some of Honda Yuasa's rivals have been handed a turbo boost reduction since the last round and Neal hopes the Civics will again prove competitive.
"We've had the boost work more in our favour this time, but we're still carrying a lot of weight [thanks to the BTCC's success ballast system]," said Neal. "Knockhill is a handling circuit, but it also has two long straights.
"I think both the MGs will be very fast, as well as the BMWs, and Flash is always very quick at Knockhill. Andy Jordan has also been fast everywhere this year and I don't see why this weekend will be any different."
Like Shedden, Neal enjoys Knockhill, even if he has rather further to go to get there. "It's like no other circuit, though I don't like the trip up!" he said.
"You get a good atmosphere from the fans - whether they are cheering you or booing you - so it's a real buzz for the drivers. The racing is normally very intense too."
The Knockhill action gets under way at 09:35 on Saturday with free practice. Qualifying is at 15:05, and the first of three races on Sunday is scheduled for 11:45.
Honda Yuasa Racing Wins Again at Snetterton
Honda Yuasa Racing continues to lead all three of the main competitions in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after another fine weekend for the Honda Civic at Snetterton.
Due to the turbo boost equalisation system in the series, Honda Yuasa stars Matt Neal and Gordon 'Flash' Shedden found the going tough in qualifying. Shedden managed to pull out a great performance to go third fastest, but championship leader Neal was limited to 11th, hampered by a fuel issue.
In race one, reigning champion Shedden chased the leading works MGs and finished right behind Jason Plato to take third, while Neal battled his way to ninth.
Things improved for Neal in the second encounter, in which several clashes damaged or delayed many cars. Shedden was one of those involved, after contact with the Pirtek Racing Civic of Andrew Jordan, but Neal drove superbly to come through to second.
He pulled a fine move around the outside of Aron Smith at Montreal, to give himself the inside for the Palmer left-hander, to snatch the runner-up spot on the final lap.
"I was relieved to get to the end," said Neal. "I'm amazed to be on the podium from where I was.
"I got a good result partly through a little bit of racing and partly by staying out of the carnage."
It was Shedden's turn to stand on the podium in race three. He pressured early leader Colin Turkington before muscling past with some contact at Agostini at half-distance. He then pulled clear to take his third win of 2013.
"To leave on a high is excellent, but it's only because of the misfortunes of others," reckoned Shedden. "The car's good and I'm doing my best to stay out of trouble but it keeps finding me!"
Neal clashed with Dave Newsham on lap one, but again recovered well to finish eighth and keep himself at the top of the drivers' standings.
"Andrew has had a win and Flash has had a win so that's two victories for Honda," said Neal. "We've increased our leads in the manufacturers' and teams' championships, I'm still leading the drivers', and Gordon is now more in it too. They have to look both ways now instead of one."
Shedden added: "Matt's had a cracking weekend. Even when he hits trouble he's still scored points."
The Snetterton results mean that Honda Civic drivers are now first, second and third in the BTCC table, Neal leading from Jordan and Shedden.
Honda Yuasa Racing's next outing takes them to Scotland for the Knockhill rounds on August 24-25.
BTCC Battle Resumes for Honda Yuasa Racing
Honda Yuasa Racing star Matt Neal heads to Snetterton this weekend hoping to maintain his lead in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Neal and his reigning champion team-mate 'Flash' Gordon Shedden were two of the top performers in the first half of the season in their Honda Civics. Now the title fight resumes on the Snetterton 300 circuit, the longest track on the BTCC calendar, where Honda Yuasa Racing completed a successful test last month.
Triple champion Neal was pleased with the test, but believes this weekend will prove tough. As championship leader he will carry 45kg of success ballast in qualifying and race one, and the Civics will still run at baseline turbo boost while most rivals have been allowed extra power under the BTCC's equalisation system.
"The test went pretty well," said Neal. "It was blindingly hot, but we did long runs and short runs, and tried a few things.
"Carrying the weight round Snetterton, with the boost situation, will make it an uphill struggle. I expect the MGs to be quick and Flash should be on their tail with only 18kg of ballast. Everyone could be up there - the BMW's form over the last couple of rounds means it should be pretty monstrous."
Nevertheless, the Snetterton 300 configuration, introduced for 2011, is a circuit Neal enjoys. "Since the changes I think it's mega," added Neal. "It needs commitment.
"It's also a good track for overtaking. There are three corners - Palmer, Williams and Coram - you never feel you've got it right and that promotes mistakes. We can't overtake people with the boost so we need them to make errors, and the 300 circuit is more challenging."
Shedden currently lies fourth in the drivers' standings after a mixed first half of 2013, but his pace has never been in doubt.
"I think the infield will suit the Civic, but it'll be a tough weekend," he said. "More than perhaps any other circuit Snetterton shows up the extra ballast.
"We could do with a good qualifying. One of these weekends I know I'll have a ballistic meeting that'll fire me back into the title fight. I'm on the fringes of it now - we've had no lack of speed, just a lack of the cards falling my way, but things usually even themselves out in touring cars.
"Snetterton is a great venue and is well supported by the fans. I don't think the 300 layout is any better than the old circuit, but it has provided good racing over the last couple of years. It should be interesting."
The Snetterton action gets under way at 09:25 on Saturday with free practice. Qualifying is at 15:20, and the first of three races on Sunday is scheduled for just after midday.
Honda Yuasa Racing Extends Lead at Croft
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.
Honda Yuasa Racing Head North in Search of Wins
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are looking to return to winning ways as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Croft this weekend.
For the first time in eight months, the duo returned from a BTCC round without a victory last time out at Oulton Park, although Andrew Jordan did win race three in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.
Both Neal and Shedden won at Croft last season and know the Civic is rapid in the wet conditions that are forecast for this weekend.
"It's been a good hunting ground for us," said Neal, who currently leads the drivers' table by four points from Jordan.
"Andrew is on really good form at the moment and Jason Plato was really quick at Oulton, but if it rains, which is forecast, that should be good for us."
Reigning champion Shedden, who is currently striving to make up for a tricky start to 2013, also hopes Croft can help him catch the top three in the table.
"The forecast might throw another dynamic into it," said Shedden, who was a dominant force in wet conditions last season.
"It's pretty bizarre - each time I've finished in the points this season I've been on the podium. The speed is there, we just need a change of fortune.
"The car was very good around Croft last year and we're good on the new soft tyre. This weekend will be the first hard test of the option tyre so it will be interesting to see how some of the other teams deal with it."
Both Honda Yuasa stars find Croft, which has a mix of slow and fast corners, a challenge.
"I like the circuit," added triple champion Neal. "It's got some technical stuff and some high-speed exciting stuff out the back with the Jim Clark Esses and Barcroft.
"The fans can get really close to the cars too. You can smell and feel the atmosphere. Along with Knockhill, it's probably one of the places the fans can get closest to the cars in the UK."
Shedden said: "Croft always provides some good racing. It's also probably the most extreme in terms of having the slowest corner in the UK at the hairpin, and some of the fastest - it has a mix of everything."
Free practice at Croft is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 on Saturday, with qualifying set for 15:10. The first race on Sunday will start at 12:02.
Honda Yuasa Racing Battles on at Oulton Park
Honda Yuasa Racing maintained its lead in all the major Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship standings despite a trying event at Oulton Park last weekend.
The Honda Civics of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden again handled well around the Cheshire track, but success ballast from previous rounds and low turbo boost levels thanks to the championship's engine equalisation system made life tricky.
Shedden qualified third after having his best time disallowed for exceeding track limits, while Neal - running with the maximum 45kg of ballast - was eighth quickest.
Reigning champion Shedden tracked the leading MGs relentlessly in race one to finish third and then went one better second time out to grab the runner-up spot.
He was in the jostling lead pack in the reversed-grid encounter, which he started on the BTCC's soft tyre, before contact with a rival punctured a tyre and sent him to the pits.
"Splitting the MGs was good in race two," said Shedden, who remained fourth in the drivers' standings. "The car has been fantastic all weekend and we maximised what we had".
Neal battled his way to sixth in race one and, with no ballast for race two, improved to fourth in the second event.
After a battling drive in the finale, which included a dramatic fight with former champion Colin Turkington, Neal came home fourth to hold a four-point lead over Pirtek Racing Honda driver Andrew Jordan in the title race.
'The weight and the boost made it hard,' said the triple champion. "You've got to drag the weight up in four places here".
"When we had the weight out for race two we made a set-up change that didn't quite work and we didn't reap the benefits".
"We changed it again for race three and the car came alive. It was awesome. I wanted the race to go on. It felt like the soft tyre was lasting better than the hard!"
As well as holding first and fourth in the drivers' championship, Honda Yuasa Racing also maintained its lead in the teams' championship. To complete the set, Honda leads the manufacturers' standings and Jordan and Pirtek Racing head the independents' championships.
Honda Yuasa Racing only has a short break now before the BTCC moves to Croft on June 22-23.
Success For Honda Yuasa Racing as Neal Hits 50 Wins
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.
Honda Yuasa Racing Heads to High-Speed Thruxton
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden will continue their push in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the fastest circuit on the calendar this weekend.
Thruxton has been a strong venue for Honda in recent years, with Civics having won four of the last six BTCC races at the Hampshire track.
Shedden, who currently lies fifth in the standings after taking a win last time out at Donington Park, won twice at Thruxton last year on his way to the BTCC title. He is looking forward to returning, despite extra turbo boost being given to all his rivals under the championship's equalisation system.
It is a power circuit and every other car in the field will have a power increase, which will make life difficult, but we've got to do the best we can," said the 2012 champion.
"We had a good balance there last year so hopefully we can get some good results. It's the fastest circuit on the calendar and historically the high-speed corners suit the Civic well."
Although Shedden's superb 2012 Thruxton performances came in the wet, he is happy for it to stay dry this time around.
"If it rained it'd be great, but the spectators have probably only just dried out from last year so it'd be nice if it stayed dry this time!" he added.
Triple champion Neal is another former victor at Thruxton, but he also believes the boost changes will make this weekend challenging for Honda Yuasa Racing.
"I think we'll be OK," said Neal, who is currently third in the drivers' table, "but the boost increases will hurt us. Where we score is high-speed stability so hopefully that will balance it out."
Neal also plans to work with team-mate Shedden in qualifying to maximise the potential of the NGTC Civics.
The Civic currently has a 100 per cent qualifying record in 2013, with the Eurotech/Pirtek-entered machine of Andrew Jordan taking pole at Brands Hatch and Shedden going quickest at Donington.
Free practice at Thruxton is scheduled to kick off at 10:00 on Saturday, with qualifying set for 15:25. The first race on Sunday will start at 12:02.
Honda Yuasa Racing Strikes Back at Donington
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.
Honda Yuasa Racing Ready for Wins at Donington
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden head to Donington Park this weekend expecting to challenge for victories in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Neal led a Honda Civic one-two in the third race at Brands Hatch, the opening BTCC meeting of 2013, and believes the NGTC machine will again be competitive at Donington.
"Last year, apart from Silverstone, we were pretty competitive everywhere," said the triple BTCC champion.
"We'll be running with very little success ballast [9kg] and hopefully we should be somewhere in the mix."
Neal will make his 500th BTCC start this weekend and Donington holds many memories for him, including his first win in the series, in 1999.
"I try not to think about the number!" added Neal, who will race a new chassis at Donington after his original one was badly damaged with contact from a rival at Brands. "But it's my local circuit and it's where I first saw touring cars in the flesh, as a teenager in the 1980s.
"I've had some tough races there - brake failure at the bottom of the Cranar Curves in 1993 - but there have been some great moments too, like racing Nigel Mansell in the TOCA shootout."
Reigning champion Shedden was fast but unlucky at Brands and sits in ninth in the points table, four spots behind Neal. He did, however, score two wins and a second at Donington last season, and is confident he'll be at the sharp end this year.
"Brands Indy has been particularly unkind to me over the years, but we head to Donington with no ballast and we've gone well there in recent seasons," said the 34-year-old.
"In between the problems at Brands we were running fast and the car looked good on the [BTCC's new] soft tyres, which adds an extra bit of strategy.
"Other people will have made progress, but we're happy with the car we've got. I'll be disappointed if we're not in the thick of it.
Shedden is also a fan of the Leicestershire circuit. "I love it - Donington is one of my favourites," he added. "Donington, Knockhill, Oulton Park and Brands GP are old-school circuits with undulations and I enjoy them."
The Donington action gets under way at 10:00 on Saturday with free practice. Qualifying is at 15:40, and the first of three races on Sunday is scheduled for 11:37.
Honda Yuasa aces hit back after troubled start at Brands Hatch
Honda Yuasa Racing stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden bounced back from a difficult start to the opening round of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship by taking a one-two in the third race at Brands Hatch.
Reigning champion Shedden started well and qualified second to the Pirtek Civic of Andrew Jordan, with Neal fourth, underlining the speed of the revised NGTC Hondas. But race day did not start so well.
Shedden had a big slide at Paddock at the start of race one, dropping places, while Neal was hit hard by a rival as he backed off to avoid the incident.
As Neal fought with his damaged Civic in fourth, Shedden started a recovery drive. That ended when Neal was forced wide by Sam Tordoff at Clearways and accidentally almost hit Shedden as he tried to get back on line.
Shedden picked up grass in the front of his Civic in the incident, which caused overheating, and both cars eventually had to pit for repairs. That meant no points in race one.
Race two looked better, with Shedden storming from row 10 to finish third and Neal crossing the line fifth. But then Shedden's bad Brands luck struck again, his Civic failing the ride height test and causing his disqualification.
It all came good in the final event. Neal led for much of the distance, while Shedden again charged through from the back to complete a one-two as the duo finished in formation. Neal's win also made him the first driver to take a BTCC victory on the series' new soft Dunlop tyre.
"After a rough weekend through no fault of our own doing, it's great to finish with a one-two and on a high for the team," he said.
"If you're going to have one win it's good to have it at the end of the day to make the journey home shorter."
Shedden was surprised with how fast he was throughout race three. "Starting from the back on the soft tyre we thought we'd struggle," he admitted. "Compared to everyone else though we seemed quite strong.
"We've showed the pace is in the car. Maybe we didn't optimise it in all weather conditions - like the snow in qualifying! But hopefully we can push and improve for the next round at Donington Park."
Triple champion Neal believes this BTCC season will be tough, but is confident he has the tools to do the job at Honda Yuasa Racing.
"This weekend shows the opposition will be no pushover this year," he added. "I foresee a tough season, but I think I'm in the best team in the best car."
Honda Yuasa Racing Are Back and Ready to Rock in 2013
Honda Yuasa Racing is ready to defend its position as the top team in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a number of technical developments and a brand new livery for 2013.
The new NGTC Honda Civic won the manufacturers' and teams' titles last season, as well as taking first and second in the drivers' championship with Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal.
The duo return in 2013 with the white-and-red Honda Yuasa Racing livery sporting a "new look." Team headline sponsor remains Yuasa with a welcome return of Pioneer, as well as new supporters Valvoline and The AA.
Shedden, who took his first BTCC title last year, was one of the first to see it. "It's definitely a change, but still incorporating Honda and the sponsors," he said. "It's eye-catching and we'll certainly stand out on the track."
Team manager Peter Crolla hopes the new look proves popular, but is also keen to point out the improvements that have gone on underneath the skin of the NGTC Civic.
"We've worked very hard over the last few months. What we ended up with last year was a strong car, but we recognise there are a lot of teams who are going to improve.
"There was nothing we could radically change, but we've tried to evolve the car in a number of areas, like the engine and suspension. We hope the changes will keep it ahead of the pack but I think there will be stronger competition than last year."
Neal, who took the 2011 crown before narrowly losing out to team-mate Shedden last year, hopes the changes will help him win title number four.
"We've left no stone unturned," he said. "We've got all the boxes ticked".
"I don't like to be confident because that breeds complacency, but I'm looking forward to it. It's my turn to win this year!"
Shedden, of course, will be trying to defend his newly won crown. The Scot believes the car has been improved, but feels the poor weather in testing means there is still an element of the unknown heading into the first round of 2013.
"Some of testing has been positive and some of it has been scuppered by the weather - it's been so cold," added the reigning champion. "We've definitely got some improvements, it's just unproven because of the weather."
From the Donington Park media day, the Honda Yuasa Racing team and its new Civics will head to Brands Hatch for the opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on Easter weekend.
Shedden is hoping for a better start to his campaign than he has managed recently at Brands, bad luck hindering him both last year and in 2011.
"I don't think I've had a good run at Brands in the BTCC!" he said. "It'd be good to have a trouble-free weekend."
Thrills, spills and a burst of flame: a look back at 2012's action-packed season
It's nearly time for the Honda Yuasa Racing Team to begin its bid for a third consecutive title-winning campaign in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
But before the 2013 season kicks off, we thought it was worth a look back at the squad's remarkable 2012 efforts, which helped popular Scot 'Flash' Gordon Shedden to his first drivers' crown.
Having dominated the standings in 2011, Honda Yuasa Racing had to get to grips with the new-shape NGTC Civic in 2012. With limited testing, Shedden and triple champion Matt Neal headed to the first round at Brands Hatch with a fast but unproven package.
Neal gave the new car an almost perfect start, taking a second and a first in the opening two rounds to demonstrate his and Honda's title aspirations.
Team-mate Shedden was not so lucky. He suffered a mysterious electrical glitch and was then hit with an unfortunate exclusion in race three, but bounced back in fine style next time out at Donington Park.
Two wins and a second fired him back into contention, while five podium finishes across the three races placed Honda Yuasa squarely at the top of the manufacturers' and teams' tables.
Despite more bad luck for Shedden in qualifying and a rare off for Neal, the Honda Yuasa Racing Team came away from the challenging Thruxton circuit on a high. Rain on race day played to Shedden's strengths and he stormed through the field to take two superb victories.
Oulton Park in June was even better for the team, Shedden and Neal sharing the three races between them. That moved them into first and second respectively in the drivers' standings.
Another win apiece at Croft pushed the duo even further ahead, but Snetterton proved more challenging. A fire, electrical issues and a turbo boost issue all hit Shedden, while Neal quietly picked up points to maintain his lead in the title race.
The team's trip to Shedden's home track at Knockhill was also fraught. Turbo problems and the ongoing boost restrictions in the series hampered both works Civics in qualifying. Nevertheless, after hard-fought races, Matt and Gordon managed to extend their championship lead as their main rivals also hit drama.
Shedden once again demonstrated his wet-weather prowess at Rockingham to take his seventh and eighth wins of 2012, despite a huge slide on the high-speed banking. The wins put the Scot back to the top of the drivers' table.
Neal also starred, but for different reasons. Suffering with a hand injury from a road accident, he fought through the pain barrier to take two second places and keep himself in title contention. Such was the dominance of the Civics in the wet that Shedden was able to slow down and allow Neal to overtake him to score an extra point for leading a lap in race two before Neal slotted back in behind.
As expected, the low level of turbo boost the Civics were allowed under the BTCC's equalisation regulations hampered Flash and Neal on the straights-dominated Silverstone National circuit. To add to the team's problems, Neal suffered a fire and contact while battling in the pack, but the Civics still did enough to secure the 2012 BTCC manufacturers' title for Honda.
Battling drives from Shedden meant he left Northamptonshire with a 15-point lead over main rival Jason Plato, with defending champion Neal another 16 further back.
Qualifying at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix finale kept things finely poised. Shedden, with 45kg of ballast, was seventh quickest, Plato with 36kg was fifth and Neal (27kg) was third. Rain arrived on race day and the Civic's chassis once again excelled.
Neal won race one, with Shedden a conservative fifth, and second in the next race secured Shedden his first BTCC crown. Neal's three podiums over the weekend helped him jump Plato for second in the standings, meaning the Honda Yuasa Racing squad took a clean sweep of one-two in the drivers' table, the manufacturers' crown and the teams' title.
Shedden's final tally was eight wins and 408 points, with Neal not far behind on five victories and 387 points. With privateer Honda squad Eurotech/Pirtek also taking both Independents' titles, the NGTC Civic had won every BTCC title open to it in its first season.
"Taking all the titles is the perfect result," said Neal after the 2012 finale. "It's the amount of people who have given up their time and have the passion at Team Dynamics and Honda that have made this happen. It makes a massive difference."
The successful NGTC Civic will again form the basis of Honda Yuasa Racing's 2013 assault and Neal and Shedden will be hoping for much of the same come Brands Hatch on the last weekend in March.
2012 BTCC - an outstanding season for the Honda Yuasa Racing team
The 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship saw the track debut of the ninth-generation Civic and it powered the Honda Yuasa Racing team to once again take a clean sweep of all three titles.
Gordon 'Flash' Shedden scooped the Drivers' title for the first time and team mate and 2011 champion, Matt Neal, a close second - whilst the Honda Yuasa Racing team collected the Manufacturers'/Constructors' and the HiQ Team trophies.
Flash and Matt blew away the competition out on the track, but they couldn't have done it without the backing of the Honda Yuasa Racing A-team of technicians, truckies, designers, mechanics and engineers. Bringing home all three titles was the perfect reward for everyone's hard work and dedication throughout the season.
Matt Neal and Flash will once again be behind the wheel of the Civic as the Honda Yuasa Racing team take to the track in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship where they will be fighting to protect their titles.
Bring on Brands Hatch.
Honda Yuasa takes a clean sweep of titles
Brands Hatch GP
Gordon 'Flash' Shedden took his first BTCC title during an incredible day for the team. Shedden, already eight times a winner during the 2012 season, came into the Brands event leading the drivers' standings by 15 points.
In difficult wet conditions, and after qualifying seventh with the maximum 45kg of success ballast, Shedden scored a fifth, a second and a third in the three races to secure the crown.
To add to Shedden's joy, Honda Yuasa/Team Dynamics also clinched the teams' title, finishing an impressive 131 points clear of their nearest rivals.
Matt Neal also overcame a 16-point deficit to arch rival Jason Plato to finish second in the standings, 21 points behind Shedden. Neal dominated the first race at Brands to take his fifth win of 2012, before helping Shedden in race two and finishing third. He then scored his third podium of the day by leading an impressive Honda formation two-three-four finish with Flash and Jordan to round the season off on a high.
"Taking all the titles is the perfect result, " said Neal. "It's the amount of people who have given up their time and have the passion at Team Dynamics and Honda that have made this happen. It makes a massive difference."
Congratulations to Flash, Matt and the whole Honda Yuasa Racing team. Roll on 2013!
Honda Yuasa clinch their first crown
Honda secured the 2012 BTCC Manufacturers' title at Silverstone despite a difficult weekend for the team. As expected, the low level of turbo boost the Civics are allowed under the BTCC's equalisation regulations hampered Flash and Matt on the straights-dominated Silverstone Circuit.
Reigning champion Neal qualified 10th and drivers' title leader Shedden a disappointing 19th.
After an engine change, Shedden dug deep over the three races, battling to two sevenths and a sixth. His efforts, on a day when many rivals hit trouble (or each other), were enough to give Honda their first 2012 title.
"We've had the best car all year so it's a real testament to how good the Civic is," said Shedden. "They've tried to peg us back and we've won it with three races still to go."
Unfortunately, Neal suffered one of the unluckiest meetings of his 20-year British Touring Car career. A turbo wastegate problem put him out of contention in race one, before contact with another car resulted in a dramatic fire second time out.
Shedden was now leading Jason Plato by 15 points and Neal by 31 with just one round to go. That final round would take place at Brands Hatch on the GP circuit - could the title end up in Honda hands again?
The team return to winning ways
Two victories at Rockingham meant the team returned to their early season form. Flash took his seventh and eighth wins of 2012 to take the lead in the drivers' table, while Matt overcame a hand injury to score two podium finishes.
After qualifying second, Shedden chased home Andrew Jordan to finish third in the first dry race, three places ahead of Neal, who was involved in several close battles.
When the rain arrived ahead of race two, things got even better as the Civic's chassis came into its own. More importantly, both pulled away from arch rival Jason Plato, who suffered a terrible weekend and ended up 36 points behind Neal.
After a careful start, Shedden worked his way up to second and took the lead when Jordan made a mistake at Deene after a restart. Neal also made progress through the field, reaching second on lap eight of 18. Such was the dominance of the Civics that Shedden was able to slow down and allow Neal to overtake him to score an extra point for leading a lap before Neal slotted back in behind.
Starting eighth and ninth for the reversed-grid race, Shedden and Neal had a lot of work to do. Both drivers battled for the lead, running side-by-side on the high-speed banking. Flash was the eventual winner, heading another Honda Yuasa Racing one-two.
"That was a much better weekend than we expected," said Shedden. "If you get two one-twos it's a good weekend!"
The penultimate race would be held at Silverstone, scene of the climax to their successful 2011 campaign.
Honda Stars endure a difficult weekend
Matt and Flash managed to extend their lead in the championship despite a difficult weekend at Knockhill.
Although the Civic chassis proved to be exceptional around the Scottish venue, turbo problems and the on-going boost restrictions in the series hampered the pair - limiting the pair to sixth and eighth in the wet qualifying session.
Flash was one of the quickest drivers in the dry and scored two podiums. That briefly moved him ahead of team-mate Neal in the drivers' table, only for a clash involving other cars to put him out in race three and hand the championship lead back to the treble champion.
Both struggled with turbo boost regulation problems, resulting in the team having to turn the engine boost down further. Neal's car suffered more, but he battled on to a seventh, an eighth and a third to leave Scotland with a 10-point lead over Shedden in the title race.
More importantly, both pulled away from arch rival Jason Plato, who suffered a terrible weekend and was now 36 points behind Neal.
As well as pulling away in the drivers' standings, Honda Yuasa Racing continued to lead the teams' championship and Honda/Dynamics pulled further clear in the manufacturers' contest.
The team's next race would be at Rockingham on September 23.
Honda Stars Battle On Despite Troubles
The team endured a tough time at Snetterton but still came away at the top of the drivers', manufacturers' and teams' tables. Continuing boost restrictions and some poor fortune combined to make the weekend as difficult as possible.
Problems began in free practice when steering issues hampered points leader Neal, and a fuel system problem caused Shedden's car to dramatically catch fire. Shedden escaped unharmed and the blaze was quickly extinguished, but the damage was severe and Shedden had to sit out the second session.
The team mechanics did a great job to get Shedden's car ready for qualifying, but then electrical gremlins struck, consigning the 33-year-old to the back of the grid. Neal, with the maximum 45kg of success ballast, qualified seventh. The races proved much better. Neal moved up to fourth and Shedden charged through to seventh, taking advantage of the Civic's excellent chassis and fine braking to make up for the power disadvantage.
Neal clashed with arch rival Jason Plato in race two as they disputed the lead and fell to fourth, but Shedden came through to second.
Shedden took a fine third on the road in the final encounter, but then lost the place - and the championship lead - when he was excluded due to accidental overboosting from the Civic's turbo. Fortunately, Neal recovered from an early clash to take eighth and maintain Honda's one-two in the driver standings.
Neal was now leading Shedden by eight points in the drivers' standings and was 10 clear of the best non-Honda driver, while the squad comfortably heads the manufacturers' and teams' tables. Next stop on the road would be Shedden's home track of Knockhill in Scotland.
More Wins for Honda Yuasa Racing Aces
Both Neal and Flash extended their points advantage with another two wins at Croft. Reigning champion Neal took his first pole of the season with a sensational 1m24.900s lap, the only driver under the 1m25s barrier. He led a Honda Civic one-two-three, with the Pirtek/Eurotech car second ahead of Shedden.
Shedden and Jordan jumped Neal early on, but the triple champion worked his way back to the front and held off Rob Collard to secure victory and take the lead in the standings.
Shedden came home in third and, with a tweaked set-up, was even stronger in race two. Now carrying 27kg of success ballast instead of 45kg (and with Neal on 45kg instead of 36kg), Shedden overtook Neal early on as he headed for his sixth victory of 2012. Despite suffering with a misfire and brake issues, Neal held on for a fine second, but Shedden snatched the lead back in the drivers' standings.
Neal and Shedden started ninth and tenth respectively in the reversed-grid finale. They charged through the pack, but were prevented from getting on the podium by two safety car periods. Fourth was nevertheless enough to move Neal back into the lead of the championship as the BTCC made its way into the long summer break.
"The weekend has been great," said Neal. "I didn't expect pole and it was great to convert race one. Race two I was a little bit of a walking wounded. In race three the car felt great and I think we could have finished on the podium, but it was chaos out there."
Just one point separates Neal and Shedden at the top of the table, with arch rival Jason Plato 29 points off the lead. The next round at Snetterton would provide a real challenge for the team.
Neal and Shedden win all three races
The team had one the best BTCC events of the season at Oulton Park, taking a clean sweep of all three races. Not only did reigning champion Matt Neal and team-mate Gordon Shedden prove unbeatable in their Civics, they also moved into first and second in the drivers' table.
Neal narrowly missed out on pole, but took the lead in race one and never looked back. Shedden found the set-up not to his liking, but still battled to a fine fourth before changing his Civic for the second race.
When Neal was struck with a turbo problem in the early laps of Race 2 and delayed Jordan, Flash was able to move from fifth to third. He then led Jordan home to take his fifth victory of the season, with Neal following up in fifth.
In race three, Neal quickly charged to the front, defeating arch-rival Jason Plato to score his third win of 2012, while Shedden was only 1.1 seconds behind the victor in fourth.
With 18 races still to go, the championship is far from won: "We've got to keep racking up points so it's good to score some here and keep it going," said Flash.
A great recovery from the team
The team overcame setbacks and appalling conditions to win two races at the third round of the BTCC at Thruxton. The Civics set the pace throughout free practice, but things went wrong in qualifying. Neal, who had topped the damp-but-drying session early on, crashed out, while Shedden's pole lap was taken away due to overboosting problems with the turbo.
That meant Shedden lining up in 18th, one place ahead of his team-mate, but there was still hope of some good results to come. That optimism proved founded as Shedden charged through the field to sixth, despite a first lap accident. Neal wasn't too far behind, climbing to 10th in the heavy spray.
Starting sixth for race two, Flash continued his good work and took the lead just after half-distance, despite problems with his windscreen wipers. Neal also suffered similar issues, but fought through to fifth.
The duo saved the best until last. Neal started fifth and Shedden ninth for the reversed-grid finale, but had risen to second and fourth respectively after just one lap. The pair pushed their way to the front and after swapping positions to allow Neal to score an extra point for leading, Shedden picked up the first place trophy to claim the team's second one-two of the season.
As well as having both Shedden and Neal in the top three of the drivers' table, Honda Yuasa Racing led the Teams' Championship, and Honda/Dynamics topped the Manufacturer/Constructor battle.
The next round would take place a month later at Oulton Park, could the team continue their early good form and get rid of the bad luck?
Honda Yuasa Racing Stars in Fine Form
The team moved to the top of the manufacturers' and teams' tables with an impressive performance at Donington Park. Despite only being the second race meeting with the new NGTC Civic, the team took two wins and five podium finishes across the three races.
Gordon Shedden finished a fine second in the first race, just 0.229 seconds behind winner Mat Jackson, before winning races two and three to record his best ever weekend in the championship. "I think at the end of first practice I'd done more laps than I had during the whole weekend at Brands!" he said.
Shedden's three podiums moved him up to fifth in the driver standings, 15 points behind leader Jason Plato.
Matt Neal also scored some good points at Donington. He followed Flash home in the first two races - helping the Honda Yuasa Racing Team to its first one-two of the season - and believed a podium was possible in the reversed-grid finale. However, a multi-car incident triggered by Rob Collard's BMW, resulted in Neal being spun into the gravel.
Despite that disappointment, Neal is only four points away from the championship lead in second. "It's early days, but it's always nice to have big points in the bag," he added. The next outing for the team would see them head to the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.
New Honda Wins on debut
The Honda Yuasa Racing Team kicked off their 2012 BTCC challenge in fine style with a victory for its new Civic. Reigning champion Matt Neal qualified in second place and was fighting for the lead of race one when a clash between two rivals delayed him and allowed Rob Collard's BMW slip by to win.
But Neal went one better in the second event, moving to the front and fighting off a challenge from rival Jason Plato after an intense battle. A small error dropped Neal down the field in race three, but he fought back to finish seventh and was just four points off the lead in the driver standings.
"It's been really positive," said Neal. "We're getting turned over on the boost, but to get a win for the new Civic on its first weekend is great. And we're learning every time we go out."
Team-mate Gordon Shedden also showed great pace in his Civic, but his Brands Hatch bad luck struck again. A mysterious electrical glitch meant his car kept cutting out throughout the weekend. Despite the problem, Shedden finished fifth in race one. He was making good progress in race two when the problem struck and, with other cars racing so close to him, Shedden decided to retire for safety reasons.
With the car working well in the final race, Shedden stormed through the pack to finish fourth. But his poor luck struck again as he was disqualified when it was deemed his car had been worked on during a red flag period. Shedden didn't have long to wait to put things right, as the championship moved to Donington Park.