Moonlighting: Episode 7
It’s another of those opinion-diving topics: drivers don’t get hugely excited about the Silverstone National Circuit but it works really well for fans and television viewers alike.
A bit like a triangle on steroids, it is a short, sharp lap and wide enough to stimulate overtaking in almost every category and has given some stonking BTCC races over the years, witness the Andrew Jordan versus Jason Plato fight of 2013 as an example. But a flipside is that it comes at a time of year when a number of drivers wants to keep championship hopes alive and so some of the championship hopefuls want to keep out of trouble and bag points.
So, do we anticipate Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato going for broke this weekend or bagging points, avoiding peril that could result in not scoring at all? Add to the plot drivers like Colin Turkington or Andrew Jordan with less to lose – Jordan having stated that his championship hopes are over – and who will be going all out for wins? Then you have drivers like Matt Neal who can play two roles: one is as championship hopeful because he is still in touch, and if he slipped away he would soon become Shedden’s rear gunner, protecting his team-mate from other eager to take points away. And, of course, who does Shedden need to be most mindful of in terms of points? Neal’s old rival Plato…. Their on-track battles have been far less in recent times but that doesn’t mean the desire to beat the other is any less, especially when there are championship consequences to factor in.
Now, one other factor to monitor this weekend is of course the relative pace of the Volkswagens and Hondas in particular. Last year, the works Hondas (the Tourer, admittedly) struggled massively for around here, hampered by boost, but think back to ’13 and the Jordan/Plato battle and there is evidence that the Honda – as a shape – can work. Let’s see how the Honda power unit works with the help of Neil Brown’s men because that is going to be vital to let Shedden and Neal take points away from the Plato Volkswagen.
Throw in Mat Jackson and the impressive Ford Focus (and what could he have done had he been able to do a full season?), Jack Goff, Adam Morgan, the BMW fleet, Turkington, maybe the Rob Austin Audi and not only should we have three more wide open races to enjoy this weekend but the championship title fighters’ hopes can be massively affected by others on the grid.
It’s a time to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.