Seven races into the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Cars Championship and the current holders of the team title, Honda Yuasa, seem well-placed to repeat their 2012 success. Of the two-driver team previously known as Team Dynamics, the 46-year-old veteran Matt Neal sits in pole position with 293 points, whilst younger teammate Gordon “Flash” Shedden is handily placed in third. The pair sandwich their main rival, Andrew Jordan of Pirtek Racing, who trails behind Matt by six points. If Honda Yuasa take the 2013 title it will be the fourth season running that the dream team of Neal and Shedden have taken the team title. Last time around it was Shedden who triumphed in the individual drivers’ championship, beating his teammate Neal into second place by twenty-one points.
If Neal holds onto his lead, it will be his fourth title overall. He was part of Honda Racing Team, who were the precursor to the Honda Yuasa team, when he topped the standings at the end of the 2011 season. This was his first driver’s title since his wins in 2005 and 2006 for Team Halfords, driving a Honda Integra Type R. Matt’s win in 2005 was coupled with a win for his team and was the first time an independent team had won the BTCC since the team event’s introduction in 1995. Neal’s partners in that 2005 triumph were Dan Eaves and Gareth Howell. Matt himself won the Independent Drivers Championship in 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2000. Top place on the overall driver’s podium for 2013 would be an excellent way of marking the twentieth anniversary of Matt’s first BTCC triumph.
Gordon Shedden, thirteen years younger than his current teammate, joined the Team Halfords team in 2006, and won his first race the same year at Oulton Park. He finished that season as Rookie of the Year in fourth place overall, and the following season finished third, beating his teammate Neal into in fourth place by five points. Shedden became the team leader in 2007 when Neal left to join VX Racing, but in 2010 the pair were reunited in the Honda Racing team.
In 2013 the Honda Yuasa team began with disaster in race one at Brands hatch as both Neal and Shedden were forced into unscheduled pit stops and finished outside the points. Things hardly improved for Shedden in race two when he was disqualified for running below the minimum ride height. This disqualification forced Shedden to start race three at the back of the grid, but he pushed his Honda Civic through all his competitors to grasp second place behind Neal. Shedden won the first race at Donington Park three weeks later, but in the third meeting of the season at Thruxton Team Honda Yuasa really stated their intentions for the season when they won all three races – Neal the first two and Shedden the third, pipping Neal at the finish line.
You can follow all of Honda Yuasa’s triumphs in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on ITV4 and on the official Honda UK website at http://www.honda.co.uk/racing/btcc/