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Varied weekend sees celebrations and setbacks for Honda at Oulton Park

Honda’s Dan Cammish added two more podium finishes to his 2019 total in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park on Sunday, but the day ended in frustrating fashion for the Halfords Yuasa Racing squad when contact compromised team-mate Matt Neal’s race winning position in the final race.

After both Halfords Yuasa Racing cars topped the times in practice drivers, Cammish and Neal were confident going into qualifying. A tight session on the challenging Cheshire track saw Cammish forced to settle for third, while Neal’s Civic Type R qualified sixth.

Cammish made a strong start to race one, snatching second place and beginning the chase after leader Colin Turkington.

Neal had been holding a strong sixth and closing on the cars ahead, when a mechanical failure forced the Honda into retirement at the fast Druids corner. In the ensuing safety-car period Turkington was able to keep Cammish’s Honda behind following the restart.

Both Honda drivers started race 2 on the softer tyres. Cammish made another good getaway from second on the grid but was beaten into the corner by Turkington and his team-mate Andrew Jordan. Thereafter the Honda completed a solid race to rack up another podium finish with third.

Neal’s race was anything but quiet. The Halfords Yuasa Racing team worked to repair the damaged Civic Type R in only 90 minutes, seeing the Honda driver on the grid in 29th for race two. Neal then matched their efforts, passing cars on virtually every lap to make up 18 places, finishing 11th and earning potentially vital championship points.

More reward quickly followed as the draw for the reverse-grid final race placed Neal’s Honda on the outside of the front row. While beaten off the line by pole-sitter Jake Hill, going into lap 3 the Honda powered past, this was unfortunately followed by contact with Hill, causing Neal’s Civic Type R to spin out of the lead.

Neal recovered, dropping to 17th and then fighting his way back to cross the line in 12th. This became 11th when Hill, who had won the race, was penalised 20 seconds for the contact with the Honda. Cammish, who had started tenth, was also badly delayed in the melee from Neal’s spin, dropping to 24th but recovering to finish 16th, just out of the points. 

The Honda squad will now put the meeting behind them and head to the next Rounds at Snetterton in Norfolk next month– where the team had a major triumph last year when Neal took the BTCC’s 60th Anniversary ‘Diamond Double’ race.

“Another weekend that promised much but did not deliver all of it,” said Cammish. “I was pleased to keep racking up the podium finishes as consistency has so often proven so important in this championship. But what happened in the last race was so frustrating.

“We were clearly [one of] the strongest teams … so we will go to Snetterton next month in confident mood. I was on the podium there last season so I’m looking forward to the races.”

“A weekend to forget for me,” said Neal. “I was strong in the first race only to be robbed by a mechanical issue. That put me on the back of the grid for race 2 and I was pleased to battle my way up the field, especially when the grid draw put me on the front row for race 3. But then of course it all went wrong. The only thing to do is put this meeting behind us and head on to Snetterton, a meeting I’m really looking forward to after my win in the ‘Diamond Double’ last year.”

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