By: Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
- Shedden earns pole at Oulton
- Honda Team mate Neal on front row
- Neate places Ford 3rd fastest
Honda Racing once again dominated qualifying for the second consecutive meeting with Gordon Shedden beating his team mate Matt Neal and will start from pole for round 10 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Despite being struck with a boost reduction and the normally aspirated cars becoming lighter Shedden put his Honda Racing Civic on pole completing just 5 laps in the process meaning it is four poles out of four for Honda Racing this season. A delighted Shedden said after, “I’m delighted. This place has been kind to me in the past and this puts me in the perfect position to go for more wins which I need if I’m to get back into the title scrap.”
This place has been kind to me in the past.
Undoubtedly the star of qualifying was Andy Neate for Team Aon who shocked the paddock to put his Global Ford Focus on third. Neate fought back from a life threatening injury sustained at the start of the Britcar 24 hour race in 2008 before joining the BTCC frame last year for WSR. So far Neate has not enjoyed the success but hopes to turn it around having secured his best qualifying position to date. A clearly delighted Neate said after qualifying, “Things haven’t gone my way in the first three events and I’ve been going home a bit of a miserable sod so this feels great. I even think a front row position was on because another car got in my way on what could have been a quicker lap but I’ll take third any day. I’m also sure we have enough performance to hold on to third in race trim, but living with the Hondas might be a bit too much to ask.”
Despite carrying 70kg less than the Hondas defending champion Jason Plato could only manage fourth. However there was less good news for his Silverline Chevrolet team mate Alex MacDowall who had a sizeable accident during qualifying at Druids and ended up seventh. MacDowall suffered heavy rear end damage and said after the accident, “The car just got away from me on a kerb and the only response I got from my mechanic when I asked him what the damage was like was ‘expensive’. A shame as up to that point I was on for third on the grid…”
MacDowall’s accident was not the only one during qualifying with the session having to be stopped just prior to the end when Liam Griffin, who had already spun a number of times at Cascades, ran wide at the first corner ripping his oil sump and spilling oil over the track. As a result a number of cars took to the grass at high speed down Dentons destroying the front of their cars across the dry, bumpy grass, most notably was Griffin’s Airwaves Racing team mate Mat Jackson, who will start a disappointing tenth, and the ever spectacular Rob Austin, who will start twenty second.
Frank Wrathall put in a great display to qualify a hugely encouraging eighteenth in his Dynojet NGTC Toyota Avensis ahead of some well-established names including Tom Onslow-Cole in the AmD Miltek VW Golf. Much had been expected of Onslow-Cole heading into the weekend but after a disastrous qualifying ending up in 2oth position, he has already ruled out any real points from the day and said, “I don’t know where our pace has gone. We’ll look at the data between now and the first race tomorrow to see what we can find, but the car doesn’t feel bad. It’s not perfect, but it’s good.”
Elsewhere Dave Newsham driving for the first time this season in a Seat Leon for Special Tuning Racing will start 16th with Lee Wood, who makes his return to the series for the first time this year in his BTCC spec Central Racing Group Honda Integra, qualifying in 21st.
That concludes all the highs and lows from qualifying. Tomorrow there promises to be three great races in store plus with the added extra possibility of rain there promises to be plenty of action. So be sure to return to Motorsport.com for all reviews and images after the event.