HALFORDS RACING WITH CATACLEAN ENDS CAMPAIGN ON A HIGH WITH ROSTRUM HAT-TRICK
Halfords Racing with Cataclean rounded out the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a superb day in Kent, as drivers Gordon Shedden and Dan Rowbottom combined to ensure the team secured a podium finish in each of the three races around Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit.
The pair kept the Droitwich-based outfit at the sharp end throughout the weekend, with Rowbottom topping the times during Saturday’s initial free practice session and netting second in the final race of the campaign, while Shedden took the honours in FP2 before bagging third place in Rounds 28 and 29.
Having shown the speed of the Honda Civic Type Rs in free practice, Rowbottom and Shedden lined up third and fourth respectively for race one, ready to attack the BTC Racing machines of Senna Proctor and Josh Cook ahead.
While the pair both bolted away from the line, it was Shedden who came out ahead, getting past his team-mate into the final podium spot. He then set off in pursuit of Proctor for second but wasn’t able to get close enough to mount a serious attack, although the #52 machine did set the fastest lap of the contest – and a new lap record for the legendary Grand Prix circuit – before taking third at the flag.
Rowbottom fended off an attack from Dan Lloyd, who eventually wriggled by, relegating the Jack Sears Trophy leader to fifth by the second tour. He went on to defend the position from a persistent Ash Sutton for the remainder of the race, making it his 17th top ten finish of his sophomore campaign.
Both drivers would find themselves with additional success ballast for the second encounter, with Shedden battling to get past the fast-starting Vauxhall of Lloyd. The three-time champion was ultimately unable to mount a sufficient attack on the #123 machine and, after Colin Turkington squeezed past Rowbottom, Shedden defended the final podium spot from the BMW man to the conclusion of the 18-lap race.
With Turkington putting massive pressure on the #32 Honda from the off, a tiny slide at Paddock Hill Bend on lap ten was the mistake he needed to get past heading to Druids, with Rowbottom ending the race in fifth once again. A highlight during the encounter saw the Kidderminster racer pip his team-mate’s new lap record as he took the coveted fastest lap point on the 2.43-mile circuit.
Rowbottom began the final race of 2021 from fifth on the grid, by virtue of the reverse grid draw, while his team-mate would start in P7.
The 32-year-old made a good start moving ahead of a pair of rivals, before setting off after Sutton’s race-leading Infiniti. A safety car period hampered Rowbottom’s progress, as the Honda took longer to get its rubber back up to temperature on the restart, and it became a fourth rostrum finish of the campaign as Rowbottom bagged second place.
The final race of the day saw Shedden lose places off the line, before moving through the pack to return to seventh spot at the finish, defending the place from an attacking Jack Goff throughout most of the second half of the contest.
Rowbottom confirmed his Jack Sears Trophy title success at Brands Hatch, taking another trio of victories, resulting in an impressive 23 wins from the 30-round campaign, while Shedden’s consistency in Kent moved him up to sixth in the Drivers’ Standings in a mixed season for the Scotsman.
“It’s been a good season, but frustrating at times,” reflected Rowbottom. “I came into the season aiming for the Jack Sears Trophy and to win that was mission accomplished. A win and two poles proved what I am capable of and so now I reset my expectations and aims for 2022 and go out to win the title. I have always raced to win the BTCC outright and I’m ready to go again and bid to win the championship.”
“On the podium nine times,” said Shedden. “But nine non-scores… the story of my season. My car felt really good over the weekend and obviously we’ve had cracking pace. We’ll start on the front foot next year though; we’ve just got to attack and see how we get on.”