- Honda chasing three BTCC crowns as season finale speeds into view
- Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal firmly in the hunt for Drivers’ honours
- Halfords Yuasa Racing Civic Type R tipped to shine at Brands Hatch
Halfords Yuasa Racing duo Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal are ready to ‘throw caution to the wind’ in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season finale at Brands Hatch next weekend (1/2 October), as an unprecedented eight drivers get set to go wheel-to-wheel for the most coveted crown in UK motor sport.
Unpredictability has always been one of the BTCC’s hallmarks, and that has never been more the case than this year, with a record number of different race-winners and eight competitors still in contention to lift the laurels heading into the last three outings.
Shedden and Neal sit respectively second and third in the Drivers’ standings, 11 and 13 points adrift of championship leader Sam Tordoff, with the initiative having ebbed-and-flowed throughout an enthralling campaign.
Brands Hatch’s legendary GP circuit – home to Formula 1’s British Grand Prix on 12 occasions between 1964 and 1986 – has been a happy hunting ground for Honda in seasons past, with Shedden clinching his second BTCC title there in dramatic style last year.
Both the Scot and evergreen team-mate Neal – who passed the 600 start mark in Britain’s premier motor sport series at Silverstone last weekend – are palpably fired-up for the fight, with Honda and Halfords Yuasa Racing similarly in the thick of the battle for Manufacturers’ and Teams’ honours.
“Brands Hatch GP is an awesome venue for a title showdown. I’ve had some great results there in the past, and hopefully the positive memories of last year will spur me on. It’s going to be an interesting weekend, that’s for sure. Usually when you get to this stage of proceedings, you’d realistically say there are two or three drivers who could be champion but this year there are twice as many – at least! That means nobody can afford to sit back and just collect points – everybody has to be pushing flat-out, and it’s going to require an absolutely stellar weekend to get the job done. It could even come down to the luck of the reversed grid draw for race three… What seems certain is that it will go all the way to the last race – and perhaps even the last lap of the last race! I remember back in 2012 when I first went into a BTCC title-decider, no matter how much you say you’re feeling chilled and relaxed and have it all under control, the pressure of the situation still has an effect and you instinctively tighten up a bit so hopefully the experience Matt and I have will play in our favour and we also know we will support each other should the need arise. Ultimately – and regardless of personal aspirations – the goal is to get a Civic Type R over the finish line first.”
“It would have been crazy to think back at the start of the year that eight drivers would be going to Brands Hatch still in with a shout of the title. That proves how ultra-competitive and incredibly close the BTCC is at the moment – you simply can’t afford to have a bad weekend, especially now we’ve got to the business end of the season. We’ve had a bit of ill-fortune befall us at certain key stages that has cost us ground, but both of us go to Brands well in the hunt and prepared to throw caution to the wind and as a team, I don’t think anybody in the paddock works together better than ‘Flash’ and I do. Sam [Tordoff] seems to have been looking over his shoulder a bit lately, but in truth the pressure will be on all of us. Anything can happen from unpredictable weather to end-of-term madness, and just one slip-up could spell the end of your championship bid. The GP layout should suit the Civic Type R with its excellent high-speed corner stability – it’s old-school, unspoilt by health and safety warriors and calls for a lot of commitment – but then equally, it will probably suit the other cars too, so it’ll definitely be game on. May the best man win!”
1. Sam Tordoff 278 points
2. Gordon Shedden 267 points
3. Matt Neal 265 points
4. Rob Collard 261 points
5. Mat Jackson 257 points
6. Andrew Jordan 247 points
1. West Surrey Racing 722 points
2. Honda / Team Dynamics 688 points
3. Subaru / Team BMR 629 points
4. MG / Triple Eight 507 points
1. Team JCT600 with GardX 529 points
2. Halfords Yuasa Racing 517 points
3. Motorbase Performance 496 points
4. Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 451 points
5. MG Racing RCIB Insurance 288 points
6. Speedworks Motorsport 203 points