Neal8Honda Yuasa Racing ace ‘Flash’ Gordon Shedden jumped to second in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham last weekend as team-mate Matt Neal suffered a tough event.

Neal came into the Northamptonshire event with a narrow title lead over the Pirtek Racing run Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan, with Shedden third.
The Hondas topped the timesheets in damp practice, but things were more difficult in the dry, not helped by both Neal and Shedden having to run success ballast. Shedden qualified fifth, just behind Jordan, while Neal was seventh despite being within half a second of pole. With Pirtek Racing’s Jeff Smith in sixth, it meant all four NGTC Honda Civics were in the top seven.
Race one was damp and Jordan, Shedden and Neal all moved forward in the early stages. But a spin during an early safety car period dropped Neal to the back, from which he could only recover to 14th.
“It was an error on my behalf,” said the triple champion. “I got on a bit of oil and it pirouetted on me.”
Up at the front, however, Shedden moved past Jason Plato’s MG and narrowly missed out on a podium slot on the run to the line as his tyres faded.
Shedden overcame Jordan early in a dry race two and only lost out to Rob Austin, whose rear-wheel-drive Audi was well suited to the Rockingham circuit.
Neal did a superb job in the early stages to get up to fifth, but a steering problem sent him out of the race at Deene. Another fine recovery was better rewarded in the final race, Neal coming home seventh after starting on row 12.
Shedden was again in the mix at the front and eventually came home fifth. It means he is now up to second in the championship, 30 points behind Jordan. Neal’s troubled weekend means he has fallen to fourth, but he is only four points behind Shedden and is still in contention with six races still to go.
“Flash hasn’t had a bad weekend and it’s been positive for Andy,” said Neal. “He’s in a Civic and it’s great for him and that team. And we still have a good lead in the teams’ and manufacturers’ championships.
“I thought we’d be okay, skirting around the edges of the podium. The pace in the car was good and in the damp and in race three I went from 24th to seventh with a wet set-up on the car in the dry. The weather forecast said rain would come at 5pm so we had everything softened off.
“Andy’s in a strong position, but there’s still everything to play for. I’m not giving up and will go to Silverstone with a light car so we’ll see what we can do with that.”
Shedden added: “It’s been a good weekend. Matt and I have been evenly matched and we’ve scored good points. We tried a lot of things set-up wise but nothing quite had the desired effect and we can’t quite put our finger on the reasons why at the moment.
“It’s going to be difficult, but I’m certainly not giving up the fight to retain this title, and Matt wants it back, so we’ll work hard as a team to get that opportunity.”
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car battle now moves to Silverstone at the end of the month.