The tight circuit often favours rear-wheel-drive machines and, with both points leader Matt Neal and reigning champion Gordon Shedden carrying success ballast, the Honda Civics were up against things heading into qualifying.
But superb laps from local star Shedden and the experienced Neal put the two Honda Yuasa entries third and fifth on the grid.
Come the first race, Shedden brilliantly overtook the Audi of Rob Austin at Clark to secure second, finishing as the top front-wheel-drive runner, while Neal held off the Eurotech/Pirtek-run Civic of title rival Andrew Jordan to take seventh.
Shedden was again the best of the FWD machines in race two, coming home third behind double winner Colin Turkington and Austin as he just held off the BMW of Rob Collard to secure another podium. Neal, meanwhile, overcame old rival Jason Plato and again held back a charging Jordan to secure fifth.
Those results put Neal and Shedden into first and second in the drivers’ table, just 10 points apart, but bad luck was to befall Shedden in the finale. A rare engine failure forced a spectacular fiery exit.
With Neal using his soft Dunlop tyre to pass Collard and finish second behind winner Jordan, Shedden fell back to third in the championship. Neal now leads Jordan by six points, with Shedden 27 points behind his triple champion team-mate.
“We got the Hondas up there, which is fantastic,” said Neal. “I think that every point you get is vital whether it’s a fifth place, a seventh, or the podium that we picked up in race three. You’ve just got to grab what you can because the competition is really tough.
“The track is tight and the pack was so close so it was really difficult to overtake. Our car felt absolutely great but we’re still struggling a little in a straight line and of course the weight killed us.”
“This championship could come down to the odd point so it’s critical that we keep pushing for every result. I said before this weekend that Turkington could be the one to watch and we’d all be foolish to discount Plato too, but it’s great to have three Civics in the top three of the championship.”
Shedden was philosophical after being struck by bad luck once again in 2013. “I feel that I maximised what the car was capable of and the Civic felt really good all weekend,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for any more with 36kg on the car in race two. I tried my hardest but it just wasn’t quite enough on this occasion.
“We had some engine temperature problems in race two and then the engine obviously blew in the final race. That’s the first engine I’ve ever had blow in touring cars so I can’t complain too much. It doesn’t help with the points; it’s all well and good having two good results but you need to convert results in all three races.
“Yet again I hauled myself back into championship contention but then straight back out of it in the space of an hour and a half! I’ve kept chipping away since Thruxton, so it’s tough to take when you get within 10 or so points of the championship lead and then fall away again. There’s still a lot of races to go though so we’ll give it absolutely everything until the end of the season.”
As well as holding first and third in the drivers’ table, Honda Yuasa Racing and Honda/Team Dynamics lead the teams’ and manufacturers’ championships with just three BTCC meetings to go.
The next round will be at Rockingham on September 14-15.