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BTCC

NEAL & SHEDDEN SHARE WINS AT OULTON PARK, SHEDDEN MOVES INTO CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

Honda team-mates Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden shared the wins in three incident-packed Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Oulton Park today. And it is Scotsman Shedden who leaves the Cheshire circuit the new championship leader as the BTCC now heads to the challenging Croft circuit in North Yorkshire for its next three races of 2012 on the weekend of 23/24 June.

Jason Plato had set a qualifying lap record on Saturday to grab pole position on the starting grid for today’s first race but a problem with his KX Momentum Racing MG6 meant he never took the start. Neal took victory in his Yuasa Honda Racing Team Civic ahead of Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Civic and Hampshire ace Robert Collard’s eBay Motors BMW.

It was then Shedden’s turn to win in race two as Lichfield’s Jordan took another second place finish. Plato, from the back of the grid, took third after a stunning drive through the pack while a career-best fourth was Fleet’s Daniel Welch in his Welch Motorsport Proton Persona.

In race three Neal won again, this time from Plato and Collard’s team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole. Another driver also celebrated his best result to date, namely Hereford’s Lea Wood who was fifth in his BINZ Racing Vauxhall Vectra.

As a result Fife racer Shedden tonight leads the title race by five points from Worcestershire team-mate Neal. Oxford’s Plato, who had led going into today’s three races, has fallen to third, seven points behind Neal.

“It’s been a very topsy-turvy day with no-one really able to put together three strong races and, if I’m honest, I’m a little surprised to be leading,” commented Shedden from Dalgety Bay. “I’ll take points on the board any day but it means my car will go into the Croft event with maximum ballast which will make it very tough to qualify well there.”

Reigning Champion Neal from Shenstone added: “I never expected a win at all today – I really thought Jason was going to have it his own way – so for two to come along is a real surprise. If he can have a problem, though, it just goes to show how quickly it can turn around and there’s still a very long way to go in the season.”

And said Plato: “After the non-start in race one it was all about damage limitation after that and that meant a few risks, but the race two result from the back of the grid was very enjoyable. Second in that third race was also very important as it keeps us right in the hunt going to Croft.”

Elsewhere Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team have increased their leads in the Manufacturers/Constructors and HiQ Teams championships. Jordan has moved into the lead of the Independent Drivers Trophy table. But it is Redstone Racing which continues to head the Independent Teams Trophy standings.

Meanwhile Nick Foster and Chris James each received official reprimands and two penalty points on their competition licences for collisions in Oulton’s first race, with Aron Smith and Tony Hughes respectively. Mat Jackson was identically punished after a collision with Robert Collard in race two and received the same again following a clash with Daniel Welch in race three.

BTCC

POLE POSITION
FOR PLATO AT OULTON PARK
 

Jason Plato set a qualifying lap record to grab pole position for the first of tomorrow’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

Plato left it right until the end of a highly exciting session to post a best time of 1m26.872s in his KX Momentum Racing MG6 and pip arch rival Matt Neal to pole by just 0.077s. Neal’s time of 1m26.949s in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic was also beneath the old record.

So too were the times set by Robert Collard, third in his eBay Motors BMW and Andrew Jordan, fourth in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.

Significantly, all these times were set in less than ideal track conditions with a number of damp patches still on the circuit. Furthermore, championship leader Plato’s time was set in a car carrying the maximum 45kgs of success ballast.

The former double Champion from Oxford commented: “I put the team under a bit of pressure in that session – I ran wide at Lodge corner on my first run and on my second was off the track and through the puddles at Cascades. It all came down to that final run – Matt had just set a very good time but we thought it still might just be possible so it was all or nothing on that last lap.”

Worcestershire’s Neal, the reigning Champion, added: “I was on track at the end and I knew Jason was as well – I was sure he had something up his sleeve and suddenly the team started telling me over the radio he was setting best sector times. I was warming up a new set of tyres for what was going to be my final run but couldn’t get across the line in time to respond.”

And said Hampshire’s Collard: “I’m very happy with third. All I need now is one of my demon starts tomorrow but it’s a very narrow circuit at Oulton – I went from fifth to first at Donington Park but whether I can squeeze between Jason and Matt at the start here… I think that gap might close very quickly.”

Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden was fifth fastest while, just a few places behind, Daniel Welch qualified a career-best eighth in his Welch Motorsport Proton Persona. 

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: btccmedia

WINS FOR JACKSON & SHEDDEN AT WET & WILD THRUXTON AS PLATO HOLDS ON TO POINTS LEAD

Warwickshire’s Mat Jackson and Fife’s Gordon Shedden, the latter with a victory double, shared the wins in today’s three rain-soaked Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.

Oxford’s Jason Plato continues to lead the points table but only just from new second-placed man Shedden as Britain’s premier motor racing championship now heads to the spectacular Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire for its next three races on the weekend of 9/10 June.

Staffordshire’s Andrew Jordan had headed Saturday’s qualifying session to line up on pole position for the first of today’s races. But it all went wrong for the Pirtek Racing driver at the first bend as his Honda Civic tangled with Plato’s MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 and crashed.

This left the way clear for Jackson to reel off his second win of the season in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus ahead of Inverness’s Dave Newsham in his Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra and Plato. Newsham’s second place was the best of his career so far. Having started from lowly 18th and 19th spots after a disastrous qualifying session, Shedden and team-mate Matt Neal, the reigning Champion, were sixth and tenth.

Shedden was unstoppable in race two as he quickly made up positions to pass Jackson for the lead and a comfortable win. Plato took second ahead of Jackson in third. Neal was fifth. In race three Shedden and Neal then simply romped clear of the opposition to give Honda a dream 1-2 result. Third, adding to earlier fifth and fourth place results, was the impressive Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet Toyota Avensis. Plato was fourth.

As a result, Plato leaves Thruxton holding a four-point lead from the charging Shedden. Next up are Neal, Jackson and Hampshire’s Robert Collard who, on his home track, took a fourth and two seventh places today in his eBay Motors BMW.

Plato enthused: “We’ve had zero running in the wet before with the MG so to take away a big points haul on a rainy day is very pleasing. We’ve got a big test programme planned between now and Oulton which should really enable us to make big gains with the car.”

Dalgety Bay’s Shedden, who also set the fastest lap in all three races at Thruxton, added: “Two wins at Donington a fortnight ago and another two wins today… it’s been a mega weekend, even if qualifying didn’t go our way. The Civic’s chassis really came into its own today in the wet and round the fast corners but it’s still early days.”

And commented Droitwich Spa’s Neal: “It’s been a bit of a scruffy day for me so to get on the podium in the third race was a good way to finish – and of course it’s another great result for Honda. The main thing is I’ve come away still in the hunt but it’s extremely competitive out there.”

Jackson, from Henley in Arden, said: “The conditions today haven’t been ideal for the Focus which runs a slightly smaller tyre compared to the Honda and MG so I’m delighted by what we’ve achieved today. It’s all about consistent scoring and not letting the others escape at this stage.”

Meanwhile, Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team have extended their respective leads in the Manufacturers/Constructors and HiQ Teams championships respectively. Jackson and Redstone Racing have taken over at the top of the Independent Drivers and Teams standings.

Elsewhere, two drivers were today penalised for on-track incidents. Redstone Racing’s Liam Griffin was handed a time penalty in race three which relegated him from 11th to 12th place while team-mate Aron Smith was officially reprimanded and had two penalty points added to his competition licence for an incident in the previous round at Donington Park.

Motorsports Mondial

 

Photo:Lotusf1

Drivers on Chinese Friday free practice

Kimi Räikkönen: “It’s not often that you have a perfect car on Friday and there are certain things we have to improve. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you are the slowest car on Friday if you are fast for the rest of the weekend. We now just need to look at the information and change the usual things on the car to improve it. We’re aiming for better results than what we’ve achieved from the last two weekends. For sure, we have some work to do on the car. We tried some different things with the set-up today so we have some information to look at, and we know there are certain areas where we have to improve.”

Romain Grosjean: “We had strange conditions this morning and a little bit of a difficult session this afternoon to be honest. We’re not where we would expect to be, partly due to the low temperature which we didn’t expect. We’ll analyse what’s changed coming from two warm weekends to here where it’s pretty cold and has changed the game. On a positive note I’m comfortable with the way the car feels; we have a few set-up issues but it’s not as if the car is nowhere. I’m sure we’ll improve tomorrow, and of course if the weather changes again then everything will change. It’s never easy to learn a new track in varying conditions, but it was good to get out there and find my way around, and also to get a proper impression of the intermediate tyres which is a bonus for me. The track itself is quite nice to drive, and I was pleased to be reasonably close to Kimi who obviously has a lot more experience around here. I’ll be working late with the engineers tonight.”

Nico Hulkenberg : “A very short FP1 with the mixed weather, but the running I managed was still useful because we did a few laps on the medium tyre towards the end of the morning. Then we had a very smooth FP2 in the dry conditions, which allowed us to complete all our objectives with long runs and tyre evaluation. Already I have a positive feeling in the car: it feels good to drive and I’m happy with the balance.”

Paul Di Resta : “It was a solid afternoon session and a positive start to our race weekend. The baseline set-up was pretty good to begin with and we just worked away at fine-tuning that during the session. As for the tyres, I would say the medium and softs are quite similar and we managed to get good data during the long runs on both compounds.”

Jules Bianchi : “It was my first ever practice session in Formula One and my first time driving the Shanghai circuit, so there was quite a lot to learn. We tried to do as much as possible, but the weather made things difficult and we didn’t do a lot of laps. After the install lap the track was still a bit damp in places, but almost immediately it started to rain again so we decided to wait for conditions to improve. I went out for a timed lap on the intermediates towards the end before switching to the dry tyres, but the track was very low grip and it was hard to push to the limit. It was good to work with the team and any time in the car is always valuable experience.”

Heikki Kovalainen : “A bit of a tricky day and one where I’m not sure how much we’ve learnt. The conditions this morning meant we didn’t learn too much, even though it was good to get some mileage on the inters, and this afternoon I had a few issues trying to find decent grip but we can work on that tonight. I’m pretty certain we can find quite a lot more from the whole package for tomorrow so let’s see where we find ourselves when it gets serious on Saturday afternoon.”

Vitaly Petrov  : “I had a slightly interrupted session this afternoon with maybe one run lost to an alteration to the front suspension early in the session, but despite that I’m reasonably pleased with how the rest of FP2 went. Tyre degradation doesn’t look too bad on either compound and I think we can find more time with some changes to the mechanical grip, so with some hard work tonight I think we can be ok for tomorrow and the race on Sunday.”

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Lynn on top in Monza British F3 free practice

Fortec Motorsport sprung a 1-2-3 surprise at Monza this afternoon, British rookie Alex Lynn leading home his team-mates Pipo Derani and Hannes van Asseldonk in free practice for the weekend’s rounds of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.

Fortec’s trio were impressive in this afternoon’s dry track conditions, Essex-based Lynn posting a best lap of the Italian Grand Prix track of 1m 46.607s, a tenth quicker than Derani, who had led the way for much of the session.

Lynn, who was only seventh fastest in the wet morning practice, said: “This morning in the wet we were just preparing for qualifying tomorrow, bedding in pads, scrubbing tyres and that sort of thing, so it didn’t really count for us. This afternoon was really good: we went through our programme and finished up fastest.” Lynn was quickest in free practice last week at Oulton Park, but failed to repeat his pace in qualifying: “These times don’t count, as we saw last week, so I am saying nothing more.”

Brazil’s Derani was happy but a little disappointed not to have ended the session quickest: “I think I could have gone a little bit quicker because I made a small mistake, locked a little bit the wheels on my fastest lap, and I ran a little wide and lost a bit of speed. But overall it’s OK.”

Jazeman Jaafar was fourth fastest and the best of the Carlin men, the Malaysian just ahead of Carlos Sainz. The Spanish driver was blisteringly quick in the wet this morning, setting the best time a quarter-second clear of second-placed Derani.

“The track was really, really slippery this morning,” said Sainz Jnr. “With so many straights here and not so many corners you don’t have time to warm up the tyres, so you have to be really patient with the car and then suddenly the grip starts to come.”

Spike Goddard crashed his National Class Dallara at Ascari in the wet, bringing the first session to a halt five minutes early, but the T-Sport team did a sterling job to rebuild his car and put him back on track in the afternoon session, in which the Australian outpaced his class rival and countryman Duvashen Padayachee (Double R) by a clear second.

Official qualifying is scheduled for Saturday morning, with Round 4 of the championship in the afternoon ahead of two further races on Sunday.