Monday 21 June 2010

HiQ reflects on a scorching weekend of racing

If HiQ thought that voting for its Champagne Moment from Croft would be relatively straightforward, it had to radically change its opinion after a scintillating round of racing in the north east.

Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan may have shared the wins in the three races, but there were so many other impressive drives throughout the field, making this Champagne Moment the most difficult to predict yet.

Notably Jordan’s win was his first in the series and also marked the first for BTCC organiser TOCA’s turbocharged ‘NGTC’ engine. But at the top of the championship it is still Matt Neal who continues to lead old rival Jason Plato as the BTCC enters a lengthy summer break before returning to high-speed action at Snetterton in Norfolk on 8 August.In scorching sunshine and in front of a bumper Croft crowd, Scottish ace Shedden won the first two races – his first victories of 2010. In a battle-scarred Honda Civic, he also took ninth place in race three and as a result has moved from sixth up to third in the standings to pressurise Honda Racing Team team-mate Neal and Silverline Chevrolet’s Plato.Jordan’s maiden win came in race three. The 21-year-old from Lichfield led all the way in his Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra which is powered by the BTCC’s new Next Generation Touring Car engine – being used ahead of full-blown NGTC regulations being introduced in 2011.Shedden, aged 31 from Dalgety Bay said: “I’m so happy with today – 35 points is a brilliant haul and it gets me right back into the title hunt. It was a shame I had a bit of a duffer in race three as I felt my car was good enough to have finished on the podium in that one as well but I can’t complain. If someone had offered me those results before the weekend I’d have bitten their hand off.”An emotional Jordan commented: “Last time out at Oulton Park my day ended on top of the barriers. I’ve ended today on the top step of the podium and it’s a great reward for all my crew who’ve rebuilt the car in between. I’m ecstatic and it’s the perfect Father’s Day present for my dad (Mike, who runs the Pirtek team).”Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s Neal took fourth and second place finishes in races one and two (in the latter he crossed the line behind Shedden to give the Honda squad a dream 1-2 result) as Oxford-based Plato took a pair of thirds. Both then suffered punctured tyres in race three – Neal retiring, Plato rejoining after a pit stop to go on and score a valuable point for setting the fastest lap in his Chevrolet Cruze. It means that just as after the previous round at Oulton Park they continue to be separated by just eight points.

Other drivers to make it onto the podium today were Robert Collard, Tom Onslow-Cole and Steven Kane. WSR BMW driver Collard was second in race one before suffering some cruel luck in races two and three. Onslow-Cole (Team Aon Ford Focus) and Kane (Airwaves BMW) would then spray the champagne in race three with second and third places respectively. A mention should also go to 18-year-old Daniel Lloyd who made a great impression on his BTCC debut, twice achieving top ten points-scoring finishes in his Triple Eight-run Vauxhall Vectra.

Elsewhere Honda/Dynamics has stretched its advantage over Arena/Ford in the Manufacturer/Constructor Championship and the Honda Racing Team has also moved past Airwaves BMW into the lead of the HiQ Teams standings. Onslow-Cole has leapt from third to the top of the Independent Drivers table but only by two points from previous leader Kane. Airwaves BMW remains in front in the Independent Teams Championship, although closest rival Team Aon has cut the gap down to just seven points from 23.

BTCC Drivers’ Points after Croft (round 5 of 10):
1. Matt Neal, 1192. Jason Plato, 1113. Gordon Shedden, 1004. Tom Onslow-Cole, 975. Steven Kane, 92=6. Mat Jackson, 79
=6. Paul O’Neill, 79
8. Robert Collard, 67
9. Tom Chilton, 6010. Andrew Jordan, 51HiQ Teams’ Points:1. Honda Racing Team, 2032. Airwaves BMW,1693. Team Aon, 1484. Silverline Chevrolet, 1395. Uniq Racing with 888, 826., 80

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