Gordon Shedden replicated his Donington Park performances as he became the first four time winner in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship, with a double win in the rain and spray at the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.
Having set the pace during the opening free practice sessions on the Saturday, qualifying didn’t go according to plan for Shedden or team-mate Matt Neal.
Reigning Champion Neal crashed out of the session during the early stages while Shedden saw his times disallowed due to an over boosting issue. At the end of the session, this left Shedden eighteenth and Neal nineteenth.
“We thought it’d be fantastic after free practice, but qualifying went wrong for a variety of reasons,” said Neal about qualifying. “The car just got away from me so to come back and get the results we did is really good.”
Despite the qualifying setback, the team were confident of a fight back in the three races.
“Qualifying was disappointing – the boost was as much over as under – but that’s the rules,” said Shedden. “When I woke up and saw it was wet I had some optimism.”
Shedden’s optimism was well founded as he charged up the field to finish sixth overall, having been facing the wrong way after contact with Rob Austin and then collected by Andy Neate.
“In race one I was pointing the wrong way after contact with Rob Austin and was punted straight by Andy Neate, so my day could have been a lot worse!” said Shedden. “I was passing them everywhere – the car was just handling so well.”
Race two saw the Scotsman continue his recovery as he moved up from sixth on the grid and into the lead of the race at half distance and he was unchallenged as he secured his third win of the season.
Win number four of the season followed in the final race of the day. Lining up ninth on the grid, Shedden found himself second at the end of the opening lap and chasing down Tony Gilham in the Honda Civic which Shedden himself drove in 2011.
Once Shedden took the lead, he and Neal pulled away and secured their second 1, 2 finish of the season.
The results have seen Shedden jump up from fifth in the Championship to second overall, just four points off the Championship lead.
The Scotsman also pointed to his relationship with Neal and how the two of them work is pushing the team forwards. “Our priority is to get Honda across the line first,” he added. “We push each other, but we have always said if we can help each other, we will.”
Neal saw his Thruxton weekend deliver not quite what he expected but he is still inside the Championship top three.
Having qualified nineteenth, he worked his way up to tenth in the first race and improved to fifth in race two, but questioned whether the second race should have started: “I questioned on the green flag lap whether we should start race two because of the spray, so it’s good to get through with two relatively unscathed cars.”
On the reverse grid, this left Neal fifth and he had climbed to fourth at the end of the first lap.
Contact with the Toyota of Frank Wrathall meant that Neal had steering issues and he was happy to play the team game afterwards.
“We had a chat on the radio as we went round and the team wanted us to look after the tyres,” added Neal.
“I thought with Gordon being heavier [due to success ballast from race two] he might work his tyres harder, but we were worried after I got the hit from Frank about the wear of my left-front. It was the sensible decision.”
There is now a six week break before rounds ten, eleven and twelve of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship, which take place at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the 9th/10th June. Honda Yuasa Racing Team will arrive in Cheshire leading the HiQ Teams’ Championship while Honda/Dynamics lead the Manufacturer/Constructers Championship.