Halfords Yuasa Racing duo ramp up title charge
Halfords Yuasa Racing duo Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal closed the gap at the summit of the BTCC after producing another strong performance at Rockingham this past weekend.
Heading to the Corby venue not quite knowing how competitive they would be in relation to their title rivals, both Civic Type R drivers found themselves in the mix towards the sharp end with Shedden setting the tone for the team by clinching pole position in a rain-affected qualifying.
Shedden romped to a lights-to-flag win in the opening encounter and despite fading to tenth in race two have suffered with maximum ballast and the hard tyre, the defending champion rallied to shadow Aron Smith across the line for second in race three.
Now lying third in the standings and 20 points behind series leader Sam Tordoff, the Scotsman admits he is refusing to give up on a third crown.
“I’m dead chuffed with the weekend. I broke the slipstream to the guys behind in race one and then focussed on keeping everything nice and smooth,” said Shedden as he reflected on the weekend.
“In race two, I was on a bit of a hiding to nothing on the hard tyres with maximum ballast, and I really had to get my elbows out at the end because I wasn’t going very fast at all by then! It would have been nice to win race three, but Árón drove really well and didn’t make any real mistakes and it would have required a fairly monumental lunge to try to get past.
“Then when Colin caught up during the final safety car period, I had to keep one eye in my mirrors too because he clearly had some good pace. Still, points make prizes as they say and we’ve closed back up to the top of the championship table. We will keep working hard and fighting to the very end.”
Triple-champion Neal bagged eighth, sixth and fourth to close the gap down to five markers to Tordoff however the three-time 2016 race winner expects a tougher round at Silverstone.
Neal said: “Rockingham is always a tough challenge physically, and in truth, we weren’t too sure what to expect coming here but we kept our heads down, plugged away and leave with a solid bagful of points. The first two races were pretty heavy going, but when I got some clear air, the Honda Civic Type R felt really strong. ‘Flash’ warned me that I would be up against it on the hard tyres in race three, so I was over-the-moon to finish fourth – I really didn’t anticipate being able to hang on as well as that.
“To come away with both of us firmly in the thick of the title fight is a great outcome. The pressure is mounting in the championship now with just two weekends to go and Silverstone next time out could be a tricky one for us, but believe me, we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got.”
The BTCC now heads to the home of British motorsport, Silverstone, for the penultimate meeting of the 2016 season on the 17/18th September.
Article originally written on Tuesday, 30 August 2016. Read more articles from the BTCC Crazy Archive.