Honda Racing Team duo Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden suffered a weekend of mixed fortunes in the sixth meeting of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton.
Shedden took his third victory of the season in race two at the Norfolk track in his two-litre turbocharged Honda Civic to keep himself in the heart of the title fight. Neal faced a huge fight back after being pushed off the track in the opening race. He recovered to take fourth in the third race of the weekend but has slipped from the lead of the points table to third place. Shedden’s results mean he has leapfrogged Neal to claim second spot in the race for the crown.
‘Flash’ Gordon said he was delighted with his victory and third place that have turned the heat up on the title contenders.
“The championship has been so competitive this season that it is vital that you keep racking up the finishes,” said ‘Sheds’. “You can’t afford to drop behind, so coming away from this weekend with 30 points has been perfect. It is a shame that Matt had his problems, because otherwise we could have been first and second in the standings.
“After finishing third in the first race, I thought a victory might be on the cards in race two and I just concentrated on hitting the front as soon as I could. When the chance came at the second corner, I just grabbed it and it was pretty comfortable thereafter. The Civic has an excellent chassis and that meant that even though I had 27kgs of success ballast, I was still able to draw away as I pleased.”
For Neal, the three races produced only a single fourth place finish after he was involved in a first corner collision with rival Jason Plato in race one. Plato was later reprimanded for his part in the crash.
Neal explained: “I made a brilliant start from fourth place on the grid and was alongside Jason, who was in the lead, going into the first turn and he just hit my car from behind. I spun across the track at 120mph, which was pretty scary and I am thankful no one else touched me.”
That meant Neal finished outside the points and a puncture also thwarted his chances in race two. A storming comeback in the third encounter netted fourth place, but it was a weekend to forget in most respects.
“I am angry because my chances were spoiled by an avoidable incident in race one which also put me at the back for race two, so that was two big points scoring opportunities gone,” explained Neal. “I was happy to get back to fourth in race three but when you consider what we should have been able to achieve here, I am annoyed. Still, there are plenty of races to go and we will work extremely hard to make up the ground we have lost here.”
The next rounds of the championship will be held on Shedden’s home soil at Knockhill in Fife, Scotland, on September 3/4.