Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden shared the wins in today’s three exhilarating Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit. Two of the wins went the way of Scotsman Shedden who has now taken over the championship lead as the title race stays in the county for its penultimate three races of the season at Silverstone in a fortnight (6/7 October).
But then conditions changed dramatically as heavy rain settled in for the rest of the day, this enabling Shedden and Neal to take a pair of dream 1-2 results for their team in both the second and third races. Plato finished behind them on each occasion in third.
As a result Shedden leaves Rockingham with a three-point lead over Neal. Plato is a further 29 behind with a maximum of 134 still available from the season’s final six races – three each at Silverstone in two weeks and Brands Hatch, Kent a fortnight later (Sun 21 Oct).
Dalgety Bay’s Shedden, who has now won eight times in 2012, commented: “I’m delighted – it seems ages since we won a race so to score a pair of 1-2s is just great for everyone in our team. The rain certainly helped us today as Jason had been looking very strong if it had stayed dry. Importantly we’ve maintained a decent gap to him as we’re expecting him to have the upper hand at Silverstone.”
Worcestershire’s Neal, the reigning Champion who has driven this weekend in pain from a broken hand, said: “I’m just pleased to get through the weekend. Gordon was unstoppable in those conditions but a pair of seconds and a sixth are probably better than I thought was possible. We’re expecting Silverstone to be tough but this really helps thinking ahead to Brands Hatch.”
Oxford’s Plato added: “We’ve managed to hold the gap to the Honda drivers, even take a little nibble out of them, at what is one of the strongest circuits for their car so I’m satisfied with that. Silverstone is going to be all-important, though – ultimately I want us to go to the final round so there’s a proper showdown for the people watching.”
Meanwhile Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team continue to dominate the Manufacturer/Constructor and outright HiQ Teams championships respectively. Jordan has moved further clear at the top of the Independent Drivers Championship. And his Pirtek Racing squad has also regained the Independent Teams Trophy lead.
Elsewhere several drivers were punished by officials for on-track indiscretions today. Race 1: Jeff Smith, fined £500 and three penalty points on his competition licence following an incident with Aron Smith. Race 1: Matt Neal, verbal warning following an incident with Rob Austin. Race 2, Jason Plato, verbal warning for performing practice starts.