Halfords Yuasa Racing drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden were pleasantly surprised by Honda’s pace after locking out the front row for the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton.
Neal grabbed pole with a lap record-breaking effort around the Hampshire circuit in qualifying, pipping reigning champion team-mate Shedden for his first BTCC pole since 2012.
The triple champion was delighted to end his Saturday drought, and praised Honda’s efforts as Jack Goff ensured a top-three lockout for the Japanese marque.
Neal said “I actually can’t remember the last time I was on pole!
“After the disappointment of Donington, we needed to bounce back and this is a great start – although ‘Flash’ certainly made me work hard for it. For Honda, this is like our home event with the cars manufactured up the road and it’s great to see so many guys from the factory here and to reward them with a one-two in qualifying.
“Now we just need to try to convert it tomorrow.”
Team-mate Shedden missed out on pole himself by a mere 0.035s, but was more surprised by the Honda’s pace once again with ballast on board.
The Scot added “to be on the front row with [the weight] in the car definitely exceeded my expectations.
“It was a proper lap and a fair chunk quicker than we went in FP2. Realistically, I’d thought we would be doing well even to sneak into the top ten so I’m dead chuffed!
“Every lap was an adventure out there as I tried to keep my foot in for as long as possible through the faster corners out the back of the circuit – there wasn’t much left in the tank.”
Photo: BTCC Media