Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal made it a Honda 1-2 in Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Oulton Park but the big shock was Andy Neate in third.
Scottish ace Shedden romped to his second pole in a row with a best time of 1m27.355s. The Honda Racing Team has now taken pole in all four qualifying sessions so far this season. Notably championship leader Neal’s time of 1m27.505s was achieved despite his Civic carrying the maximum 45kgs of success ballast.
Shedden from Dalgety Bay, Fife said: “I’m delighted. This place has been kind to me in the past and this puts me in the perfect position to go for more wins which I need if I’m to get back into the title scrap.”
However, the story of qualifying was Neate’s drive to the third fastest time in his Team Aon Ford Focus. The Aylesbury driver, who only returned to racing 12 months ago after two years spent recovering from a near fatal crash, set a best time of 1m27.778s for what is by far the best qualifying result of his BTCC career.
He commented: “Things haven’t gone my way in the first three events and I’ve been going home a bit of a miserable sod so this feels great. I even think a front row position was on because another car got in my way on what could have been a quicker lap but I’ll take third any day. I’m also sure we have enough performance to hold on to third in race trim, but living with the Hondas might be a bit too much to ask…”
Fourth was reigning champion Jason Plato in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze while Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra and Neate’s team-mate Tom Chilton completed the top six.
But several drivers missed out on a chance to improve their times as the session was stopped early following a rash of accidents, caused by oil that had been dropped on the track. There was also a separate, spectacular crash into the barriers for Plato’s young team-mate Alex MacDowall who commented: “The car just got away from me on a kerb and the only response I got from my mechanic when I asked him what the damage was like was ‘expensive’. A shame as up to that point I was on for third on the grid…”
Leading BTCC qualifying times, Oulton Park Sat 4 June (provisional):
1. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, 1m27.355s
2. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.150s
3. Andy Neate (GBR), Team Aon/Ford Focus, +0.423s
4. Jason Plato (GBR), Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.427s
5. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.559s
6. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Aon/Ford Focus, +0.689s
7. Alex MacDowall (GBR), Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.736s
8. Paul O’Neill (GBR), GoMobileUK.com with tech-speed/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.923s
9. James Nash (GBR), 888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.964s
10. Mat Jackson (GBR), Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus, +1.090s
All three of tomorrow’s BTCC races from Oulton Park will be shown live on television on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels as well as the www.itv.com website during a non-stop broadcast from 11.30am-6.00pm.