Halfords Duo Keen To Win On “Happy Hunting Ground” At Thruxton


Photo: BTCC Media

Halfords Yuasa Racing drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden expect to be strong in the third Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Thruxton.

The high-speed Hampshire circuit has often been a happy hunting ground for the Dynamics squad down the years, a track that has seen 14 wins head their way since 2005.

Indeed seven of those wins have come from reigning champion Shedden since 2006, while team-mate Neal has collected four of own his at Thruxton.

The latter will enter the 2016 meeting leading the championship by five points from team-mate Shedden meanwhile, both having claimed a win apiece as well as two one-two finishes for Honda already in a fruitful opening six outings of the season.

Neal’s fighting round six Donington triumph ensured six different winners from as many races in the opening two rounds of the season, leaving the series leader on cloud nine after a win he claimed was “as sweet as the first“.

Speaking to The Checkered Flag ahead of the Thruxton visit next weekend (7/8 May), Neal said that the burden of carrying maximum success ballast may actually become an advantage rather than a concern, saying: “It’s a happy hunting ground for Honda, so I go there full of hope.

“We say that for any track to be carrying the weight, Thruxton is probably the best, because you’re gaining momentum rather that dropping back.”

Team-mate Shedden echoed Neal’s optimism after a strong start to the season for the Dynamics duo, but added caution when questioned on the performance of the squad’s still-developing latest Honda engine.

“We’re getting there with the engine. You’d always like more though!” Shedden told TCF ahead of the visit to a Thruxton circuit with an average speed record of 111.31mph. 

“But, we’re just trying to do the best we can with it. Certainly some other engines look very strong. We’ve got what we’ve got and we’re making the best. The car is still great anyway. But to win you’ve got to be on it absolutely all the time and that’s the tricky bit.”

Halfords drivers 2016
Photo: Halfords Yuasa Racing

FLASHBACK: A Dynamic Thruxton Treble In 2005 

From the 14 aforementioned wins for Dynamics at Thruxton, three of those are not acclaimed to the team’s current stars.

Those in fact came in one special meeting back in 2005, when Neal’s then team-mate Dan Eaves became the first of what has been just two drivers to date to have completed the illustrious hat-trick in a single three-race weekend since the year prior.

The Honda Integra’s success maiden season in BTCC enjoyed a defining weekend in Hampshire that Sunday in the hands of the 2002 Independent champion, who clinched a hard-fought race one triumph before romping to race two success with help from a lap one squabble in his wake.

Overtaking is something that comes naturally at the momentum-driven Thruxton circuit, proved in the third race of the day as Eaves – aided also by a Jason Plato penalty – exploited the success ballast to his advantage through the faster corners on his way to completing a memorable sweep.

The hat-trick accounted for half of the six BTCC wins for Eaves, only Plato having repeated the feat when he missed out on the 2009 title despite a treble at the final round at Brands Hatch.

Dynamics' Success At Thruxton In BTCC: 
Wins14
One-two finishes8
Podiums37
Hat-tricks1
Pole positions (Qualifying)4