Home hero Shedden leads Honda one-two in FP1
Honda’s Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal left it late to move into first and second during Free Practice One at Knockhill, setting lap times that would not be beaten before a red flag brought proceedings to an end with less than two minutes of the session remaining.
Looking to bounce back from a difficult weekend at Snetterton, the two Civic Type Rs seemed to enjoy the freedom of running reduced success ballast around the 1.27-mile Knockhill circuit.
The session commenced with teams going through their usual programme of out-laps, tyre scrubbing and set-up changes.
With many cars running at a relatively modest pace during the opening exchanges James Cole, Kieran Gallagher and Robb Holland enjoyed a well earned period inside the top six.
Jason Plato was the first of the big guns to clock a representative lap time as he shot to the top of the timesheets in his Team BMR RCIB Insurance machine. He was quickly relegated to second, however, by his former team-mate Sam Tordoff in the West Surrey Racing BMW.
Mat Jackson took fourth tenths off the ultimate pace to set an eye-catching 52.411s lap time in the Motorbase Performance Ford, recording a competitive benchmark for the rest to chase in the final 20 minutes of running.
Jackson lowered his own yardstick shortly after the midway stage with the BMW duo of Andy Priaulx and Tordoff slotting in behind him – the latter two looking to rouse their respective championship challenges this weekend.
Three former BTCC champions made their moves with 15 minutes to go as Shedden, Andrew Jordan and Neal moved into second, third and fourth respectively.
It’s a critical weekend for the trio with Honda Yuasa Racing’s Shedden and Neal experiencing one of their worst ever weekends in Norfolk last time out, whilst consistency from the MG of Jordan needs to be turned into wins and podiums if he’s to maintain his own championship challenge.
Shedden and Neal improved even further – separated by 0.005s at the head of the field – as Honda took the opportunity to fire out a rare warning to its rivals during a practice session.
Jackson remained within a tenth of Shedden’s time to take third ahead of Adam Morgan’s late charge in the WIX Racing Mercedes.
Three of the next four cars in the order were BMWs with Tordoff, Priaulx and Rob Collard in fifth, seventh and eighth respectively, with the MG of Jordan wedged between the white Bavarian machines.
Rob Austin’s Audi and Aiden Moffat’s Mercedes rounded out the top ten, the latter having been passed fit following his accident at Snetterton.
The competitiveness was there for all to see with some 21 cars covered by less than a second as the session moved into its closing stages. Before the clock could reach zero, an off for Stewart Lines sent him through the gravel and brought out the red flag, and with a number of drivers on flying laps there’s sure to be a few surprises in FP2 at 12:15.
Free Practice 1
1 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
2 Matt NEAL (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing
3 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance
4 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing
5 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
6 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) MG 888 Racing
7 Andy PRIAULX (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club
8 Robert COLLARD (GBR) JCT600 Racing with GardX
9 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense
10 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing
11 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) AmD Tuning.com
12 Aron SMITH (IRL) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
13 Jason PLATO (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
14 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing
15 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport
16 Jack GOFF (GBR) MG 888 Racing
17 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
18 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Team BMR RCIB Insurance
19 James COLE (GBR) Motorbase Performance
20 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing
21 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed Racing
22 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Exocet AlcoSense
23 Robb HOLLAND (USA) Handy Motorsport
24 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing
25 Daniel WELCH (GBR) Welch Motorsport
26 Stewart LINES (GBR) Houseman Racing
27 Derek PALMER (GBR) Support Our Paras Racing
28 Kieran GALLAGHER (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing
29 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing