Any car which becomes the first of its kind to win a BTCC title in the modern era deserves its place in the history books. When that car is the much loved Team Dynamics Honda Integra Type-R, its place among modern BTCC history becomes cemented.
I know I’m not alone in listing the 2005/2006 BTC-T Honda Integra Type R as one of my favourite touring cars of the last two decades. Converted from an Honda Integra imported from Japan by Team Dynamics, the 2005 Integra became the first car run by a non-manufacturer team to win the outright BTCC drivers title, beating the dominant Vauxhalls run by Triple Eight, who had run rings around their opponents in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Piloted by Matt Neal and Dan Eaves in ’05, and Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden in ’06 the car scored points in every single round of the 2005 season in the hands of eventual championship winner Matt Neal.
The BTC-T Honda Integra Type R was developed from a Honda Integra DC5 chassis, the fourth and final generation of Honda’s much-loved Integra sports coupe. First produced in Japan in 2001, production halted in 2006, eighteen months after it’s introduction to the BTCC. Badged as the Acura RSX in the USA, the car went on to sell over 110,000 models in the US alone. The BTC-T spec Integra would run built to BTC-T specifications with an in-line four-cylinder 2000cc engine, front wheel drive and six-speed sequential manual transmission.
2005 saw the Honda Integra go up against the VXRacing Astra’s of Muller, Turkington and Gavin Smith, and the SEAT Sport UK’s SEAT Toledo’s of Jason Plato, James Pickford and Luke Hines. Limited to very little pre-season testing the Team Dynamics Integra began the year in stunning form, winning seven out of the first nine races which included Dan Eaves’ historic run to three victories in one day at Thruxton. The 2005 spec Integra would go on to win eleven out of thirty races over the course of the season, with the car scoring a further 25 podium finishes.
The success achieved by the Team Dynamics Integras in 2005 was unbelievable, especially given the limited amount of preseason testing available, and the level of competition form the manufacturer entries of Vauxhall and SEAT. The Honda Integra would complete a clean sweep of all available titles in 2005, with Team Dynamics wrapping up the drivers, teams, independent teams and independent championships in what is one of the most successful debut seasons of any car in modern BTCC history. The only trophy the Integra didn’t win that year was the manufacturers, as Team Dynamics were not eligible.
Neal would eventually finish the 2005 season 43 points ahead of nearest championship rival Yvan Muller with Neal’s teammate Dan Eaves finishing third, four points behind Muller.
Team Dynamics continued into 2006 much the same way as they had ended in 2005, in great form. Matt Neal finished on the podium five times in the first six races of the ’06 season in a new Honda Integra chassis after his championship winning chassis was moved to Mike Jordan’s Eurotech Racing outfit. Neal was joined by a new teammate for 2005, Scott and future BTCC champion Gordon Shedden, who graduated from the SEAT Cupra championship. Team Dynamics once again faced stiff opposition from the manufacturer entries Vauxhall and SEAT with Vauxhall now boasting European Touring Car legend Fabrizio Giovanardi in their ranks.
Just like in 2005, the Team Dynamics Integras would go on to win eleven out of thirty races in 2006 as Matt Neal drove to a second consecutive BTCC title beating SEAT’s Jason Plato by 57 points. Gordon Shedden would finish the season in 4th place with 204 points after recovering from a tough start to the year. The team would score a further 15 podium finishes throughout the course of the season as the Honda Integra drove to a clean sweep of all the titles available for it to win, the drivers, teams, independent teams and independent drivers championships. For the 2007 season, Matt Neal and Gordon remained as drivers for Team Dynamics, but the team would no longer run the Honda Integra, instead, switching to the new Honda Civic Type-R, a model which the team continue to run to this day.
Two more ex-Team Dynamics Integras joined the grid for 2006, one in the hands of Mike Jordan at Eurotech Racing and one driven by David Pinkney of Motorbase Performance. Pinkney would finish the year with one podium in race two at Knockhill, but Mike Jordan would deliver one of the standout moments of the season with a victory in race three at Mondello Park.
Post 2006 the Honda Integra’s history outside of the running of Team Dynamics is less successful. Although all five BTC-T Honda Integra Type R chassis’ were race winners in the hands of Team Dynamics, the independent teams in which the Integra was passed for the 2007 – 2011 seasons were unable to match their previous owner’s achievements. The Honda Integra remained a fixture on the BTCC grid until the end of the 2011 season in the hands of Lea Wood when it became ineligible to compete with the incoming set of 2012 NGCT/S200 regulations.
Although scoring a handful of podiums in the hands of Mike and Andrew Jordan in 2007 and 2008, the final BTC-T car touring car to race in the BTCC wasn’t able to replicate its championship winning form once again. However, the simply staggering results achieved during its first two years of competition in 2005 and 2006 ensures its place in modern BTCC history books. I’ll always remember watching Matt Neal battling with Yvan Muller and Jason Plato in the ’05 and ’06 seasons, and for me at least, the BTC-T Honda Integra Type R will go down in my books as one of the most iconic touring cars I’ve seen.
If you’re interested in reading more about some of the BTCC’s most iconic cars, let me know which ones you’d like me to cover either by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or getting in touch over on Twitter @hairpin_corner.