Matt Neal is a triple BTCC Champion and Honda has dominated all of the major awards in the 2011 championship.
The Civic bows out having stamped its authority over all other cars in the series, and the team's decision to go for turbo power at the start of the year proved to be the decisive step.
A superb installation and tuning effort from Neil Brown and his engineers meant that the nimble chassis that won two of the three titles in 2010 went one step further this year and put the drivers on top of the points standings.
Ultimately Silverstone did not produce the most exciting battles of the year despite the on-going uncertainty as to who would win the title.
Matt Neal's performance on Saturday in qualifying set the tone of the weekend.
When the chips were down, he was able to use his experience and sheer hunger to draw out of himself a performance that was beyond the normal limits: he shouldn't have been able to take pole carrying maximum ballast on a circuit that relies so heavily on braking and slow corner acceleration, but he did.
The difference between Plato and McDowell in qualifying accurately reflected their difference in ballast weight, at about a tenth per 10kg. By that token Matt should have been a tenth slower than Gordon Shedden and that would have put him 5th on the grid, with just one car between himself and Plato.
However, when he needed a truly special performance, he was able to deliver and that is surely the mark of a great champion.
Points bring prizes and Matt fully deserved his title but if we look at the season as a whole, who delivered the most complete performance?
After all, Matt had a couple of disasters, taking Shedden out at Oulton being the most noticeable but there was that slight error at Paddock Bend in the first race of the season at Brands Hatch that allowed Plato to pass and encouraged McDowell to follow at the hairpin, only to hit the Honda into retirement.
Five no-scores was a fairly high tally for the eventual champion, but Plato’s record was worse with seven. Some four years ago when Plato battled with Giovanardi for the title, Jason finished every single race in the points.
In terms of consistency with the equipment available, James Nash produced a very solid season, with a worthy victory at Rockingham and the Independent’s title, but even he slightly blemished his copy book at Silverstone going from three no-scores to five and showing elements of desperation in his attempt to wrest 4th in the series from Mat Jackson.
Of the final top six, Gordon Shedden had the least number of zero scores and it’s interesting to look back at a couple of those in particular.
At the second event of the season at Donington, teams were still getting used to running the turbos and how to set boost levels to stay within the prescribed limits.
Gordon finished third in the first race but was excluded when the data showed that the boost level had momentarily spiked above the maximum permitted. It was an error of engineering as opposed to an attempt to gain advantage, but the rules had been broken and third place was taken away, meaning the loss of ten points, and of course a starting position for Race 2 from the very back of the grid.
He fought back to sixth, having been involved in the accident that saw Plato launched into a series of rolls on lap one, and went out in another incident from Race 3. How different it might have been.
Imagine if he had kept that third place, backed it up with another in Race 2 and then held his reverse grid position of eighth in the last race; he would have scored 23 points as opposed to just 5, and in theory would have won the championship by 15.
I know it’s all theoretical but that one exclusion made a massive difference to Gordon’s season. His only other zeroes were as a result of a puncture at Brands Hatch, and an optimistic lunge from Nick Foster at Rockingham which caused some damage.
This was truly Shedden’s best season in BTCC, and he came tantalisingly close to winning the title. As Honda now turn their attention towards building an NGTC car, he must try to put his disappointment behind him and concentrate on what could be another golden opportunity in the New Year.
And, having rambled on for the final time this year in my blog, can I wish everyone a restful off-season and a great year’s racing in 2012.
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