BTCC 2017: Round Eight race report
Rockingham | 26–27 August
Misfortune meant that the Halfords Yuasa Racing duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal finished outside the top three at Rockingham, leaving Honda third in the Drivers, Manufacturers and Teams standings going into the penultimate round of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Neal lapped just over a quarter-of-a-second shy of the outright benchmark in an ultra-competitive qualifying session to line up seventh on the grid, while teammate Shedden struggled to 16th with 57kg of success ballast aboard his Civic Type R.
Neal, a three-time champion, converted his impressive showing into a solid fifth in race one – setting the fastest lap along the way for good measure – but fellow title-winner Shedden was hampered by a puncture on lap 11 and finished towards the bottom of the pack.
“Rockingham is notoriously difficult when you have ballast in the car, and that was reflected in both qualifying and race one when we very clearly struggled for speed, which was frustrating,” Shedden said.
In race two, Neal went on the attack and was challenging for second when contact with Josh Cook at Deene Hairpin resulted in an early end to his race. “The Civic Type R was on rails and second place was well within our grasp, so it was disappointing for that to be taken away from us by another driver’s error,” Neal said.
Shedden also was making ground on the pack until a collision with Rob Austin ended his race.
Both drivers began the finale at the rear of the grid but fought their way through the field to take the chequered flag in 12th (Shedden) and 13th (Neal).
“We’ve lost some ground in the championship here, and it’s fair to say the situation is not looking particularly rosy right now,” Shedden said. “But as everybody knows, the BTCC can turn on a sixpence and nothing is over yet, so we will keep on fighting to the very end.”
The series continues with Round Nine, set for 16-17 September at Silverstone.