Shedden sitting pretty
Gordon Shedden heads into the mid-season break in an enviable position, with the champion maintaining his lead in the Drivers’ standings – a stark contrast to where found himself in the tally at this point last year.
Back at Croft, Halfords Yuasa Racing duo Shedden and Matt Neal completed one flying lap apiece and lined up fourth and eighth respectively for Round 13 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in a truncated qualifying session.
The duo’s fortunes were mixed in the opener. Neal moved up two places to sixth by the end of lap one but retired with damaged left rear suspension after contact with Josh Price’s Subaru.
Shedden, with the maximum 75kg of success ballast on-board, maintained his fourth place throughout 14 of the 15 laps, finally succumbing to pressure from the lighter BMW of Rob Collard on the ultimate corner of the final lap – leaving him fifth.
Race two provided more points for championship leader Shedden, who finished a hard fought fourth. The experienced Neal, who started from the back of the grid in 29th – thanks to that first lap incident in Round 13 – finished 18th.
The third race of the day was to be the highlight of Neal’s weekend, scything his way from 18th to an impressive fifth in a Honda Civic Type R he described as ‘awesome’. His team-mate continued to score, with ninth place cementing his mid-season standings lead.
Shedden’s position at this point last year was far less of an encouraging one. The reigning champion held ninth spot in the running – some 52 points behind then-leader Sam Tordoff.
The Yorkshireman had enjoyed a more consistent start to the season with a three more visits to the podium come mid-season than Shedden. It would be some task on the Honda mainstay’s hands to turn things around, but turn it around he did.
“To come away from Croft, after last year’s results, leading the championship is mega,” said Shedden.
“It was a hard-fought weekend for me where we were struggling with out and out pace against the rear-wheel drive cars, but I emerged with a good points haul and I’m happy to go into the sabbatical at the sharp end.
“This time last year I was ninth in the standings and 52 points off the lead and I went on to win the championship, so I am clearly in a great position.
“I always say championships are won on the bad weekends and not the great ones so if this is bad, I will take it.”
Neal said: “It was a case of what might have been for me. Obviously qualifying jumbled the grid and then it was just bad luck in the first two races.
“In race one, I got hit, which broke my rear suspension. In the second race, I hit some fluid through the Esses while making my way through the pack and that did a huge amount of damage which blunted my pace.
“In the third race the little Civic Type R was awesome, it was hooked up from the start and I managed to carve my way through the pack to finish fifth and gain many much-needed points.
“I am looking forward to the summer break now and will come back fighting in the second half of the season with it all to play for.”