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Honda keeps up pressure after strong Thruxton

Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden enjoyed another successful British Touring Car Championship weekend at Thruxton, to keep the pressure on Andrew Jordan at the top of the drivers’ championship.

The pair qualified well for Sunday’s races in second and third respectively, retaining those positions in the first encounter despite a charge from Airwaves’ Mat Jackson, before Shedden swept around Jordan in a shortened race two to claim his and the team’s second victory of the season, with Neal fourth.

The weekend ended on a slightly sour note for the team, with a clash after race-long battle between Neal and eBay Motors’ Rob Collard resulting in the former dropping out of the points to 23rd place.

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Shedden’s victory means he is the closest challenger to Jordan, seven points behind the Pirtek Racing driver, but the Scotsman insisted his focus is still on developing the team’s new Tourer.

“To come away with two podiums and another win is just great,” said the 2012 champion. “It was fantastic to get another victory, and to finish off by scoring some good, strong points in race three was quite a relief given how much chaos was kicking off out there!

“It was a real dogfight, but we’ve worked very hard on the Civic Tourer and we comfortably had the legs of the other guys around us – and over the balance of the weekend, we proved that a Honda remains unquestionably the car to have at Thruxton! All-in-all, it was a successful day in the office.

“Every time we drive the new Civic Tourer, we are learning a little more about it. It’s still only done three events and has already won twice, and hopefully that development curve will continue as the year progresses.”

For Neal, the third race of the day marked something of a missed opportunity, but the three-times champion was able to draw positives from his lowly finish, which will see him carry less ballast than his rivals at the next round.

“I was really pleased with the podium finish in race one and the pace we displayed then and in race two as well,” said Neal. “The car was fantastic in race three – the best it had felt all weekend – but the whole race was like wasps in a bees’ nest and I got caught up in some of the drama on the opening lap, which cost me a few places.

“Thereafter, the cards just didn’t fall my way, which was disappointing obviously, but it does mean I’ll travel light to Oulton Park next in terms of ballast and there is still a long way to go in this championship – and plenty of points to fight for.”

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