Gordon Shedden is expecting Halfords Yuasa Racing to endure one of their toughest weekends as the BTCC heads to Oulton Park, highlighting qualifying being make-or-break.
In the past the Cheshire circuit has been well-suited to rear-wheel-drive cars and hasn’t always lent itself to overtaking – hence the enormity surrounding securing a good grid spot on Saturday for race one.
Coming off the back of a double podium performance at Thruxton, the triple champion enters the weekend second in the championship standings and carrying 66kgs of success ballast. With the stop-start nature of Oulton Park set to impact those cars with extra weight, Shedden has pinpointed the need to maximise everything they have to set them up to have as good a race day as possible.
“Oulton Park is great fun to drive, but I’m fully expecting a tough weekend – probably one of our toughest, in fact,” Shedden said. “It has traditionally been a rear wheel-drive circuit because they can pull away from the hairpins quicker, but Honda cars have generally been competitive there too, we’ve scored some good results over the years and the Civic Type R is a very well-balanced piece of kit.
“Being so difficult to pass at Oulton, qualifying could be make-or-break so I’ll really need to dig deep to pull something special out of the bag, particularly with 66kg of ballast on-board and the stop-start nature of the lap.
“The aim will be to make it as far up the grid as I can, although if I don’t manage to crack the top ten – which is a real possibility – then it will come down to playing the long game.”
Despite capturing the title for a third time last year, the Scotsman found himself having to fight back last year – with this part of the season proving to be a difficult one 12 months ago. Already in a better points position than 2016, Shedden is feeling optimistic that he and the team will only get stronger as the season rages on.
He explained: “The bottom line is that we’re in a better position in the championship than we were this time last year, and without the exclusion at Donington we would be in the lead.
“Whilst it’s obviously disappointing not to be, we tend to get stronger over the second half of the season as we get to tracks that suit us a bit more, so there’s every reason to be optimistic right now.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography