Honda back on top as BTCC returns to action

Gordn Sheddon, Honda Civic Type R BTCC

Britain’s biggest motorsport series returns from its mid-season break this weekend with a revived Honda apparently ready to take the battle to recent pace-setters Subaru and BMW.

After six weeks off the British Touring Car Championship has reconvened at Snetterton in Norfolk, and in a half-hour qualifying session the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R of reigning champion Gordon Shedden secured pole position for the first race of the weekend, setting a lap of 1m 55.627 around the three-mile circuit.

Shedden’s lap, his first top starting spot for more than three years, was all the more remarkable as he missed most of the second free practice session earlier in the day when his team was forced to change the Honda’s engine.

Second, just 0.015 of a sec behind, was the Subaru Levorg GT of 2014 champion Colin Turkington, with Adam Morgan’s Wix Racing Mercedes A-Class only 0.013 further back. Turkington’s performance far outshone his Team BMR Subaru squad-mates, Jason Plato the best of the rest with 11th spot 0.654sec down on pole position. However Plato lost his fastest lap of the session when he was penalised for exceeding track limits.

Struggling among the front runners were the BMWs of West Surrey Racing, which arrived at the circuit with drivers Sam Tordoff and Rob Collard leading the series. Tordoff proved the fastest of the three, taking 10th place with a car heavily laden with success ballast, while Collard could only manage 18th. Power steering issues earlier in the day had been solved but Rob complained of a lack of balance in his car.

With championship third-place holder Matt Neal qualifying ninth in his Halfords Yuasa Honda Civic, fourth in the points Andrew Jordan not setting a competitive lap at all after a power-steering issue kept his Pirtek Ford Focus in the pits, and the third BMW of Jack Goff, fifth in the points, mired down in 16th, the stage is set for the championship to be turned on its head on race day.

The first of three races is due off the grid at 11.32 on Sunday – check back to The Car Expert for a full report.

British Touring Car Championship Qualifying Top 10 – Snetterton
1. Gordon Shedden, Honda Civic, 1:55.627
2. Colin Turkington, Subaru Levorg, 1:55.642
3. Adam Morgan, Mercedes A-Class, 1:55.655
4. Tom Ingram, Toyota Avensis, 1:56.009
5. Matt Jackson, Ford Focus, 1:56.032
6. Hunter Abbott, Chevrolet Cruze, 1:56.065
7. Aaron Smith, Volkswagen CC, 1:56.181
8. Ashley Sutton, MG6, 1:56.206
9. Matt Neal, Honda Civic, 1:56.222
10. Sam Tordoff, BMW 125i, 1:56.235

Colin Turkington's Subaru is the closest challenger to Shedden. Photo: Lanyon/PSP Images

Colin Turkington’s Subaru is the closest challenger to Shedden. Photo: Lanyon/PSP Images

Photos: PSP Images

Andrew Charman

Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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