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Honda experiences Brands up and downs

Honda Yuasa Racing bounced back from a tough start to the 2013 British Touring Car Championship with its first 1-2 finish of the season in the third race of the day at Brands Hatch.

Having qualified second and fourth on the grid, with 2012 Champion Gordon Shedden starting ahead of triple Champion Matt Neal, the team headed into raceday with high hopes of a strong showing.

Starting second, Shedden dropped down the order at the start after a lurid slide at Paddock Hill bend and he was forced to pit later in the race after a trip across the grass which caused the #1 Civic to overheat.

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His luck in the second race ran out after recovering from 19th on the grid to a third place finish, he was later excluded for failing the post race ride height check.

This meant that he’d have to start the final race from the back of the grid with an additional 27 kilos of ballast on board from crossing the line third plus having to run the soft ‘option’ tyre.

Shedden managed to recover a second place finish in the final race of the day to leave Brands Hatch ninth in the Championship but is hopeful that the pace shown at Brands Hatch will transpire into good results elsewhere.

“Starting from the back on the soft tyre we thought we’d struggle,” Shedden 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.”

Neal, having started fourth in the first race finished outside the top 20 after having to pit for a puncture caused by an incident earlier in the race, but the triple champion recovered a top five finish in the second race, which became a top four finish after Shedden’s exclusion.

The final race of the weekend saw Neal also start on the soft tyre and once into the lead, Neal was never headed as he secured his first victory of the season ahead of Shedden, and the first win for the new 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,” added Neal.

“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.”

After the opening three rounds of the season, Neil predicts that the season won’t be a walkover for the Honda Yuasa Racing guys: “This weekend shows the opposition will be no pushover this year,” he concluded. “I foresee a tough season, but I think I’m in the best team in the best car.”

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