BTCC Knockhill Race Two: Hondas On The Point

Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden continued a good weekend for Honda Racing at Knockhill, finishing 1-2 in the second of the day's races, pulling ahead as chaos reigned behind.

With the grid for the second race set by the finishing order of the first Shedden led the way to the SEAT Curves on the first lap. Meanwhile Alex MacDowall, starting from second was again hit by start problems, his Chevrolet Cruze crawling away from the line. No doubt with the events of the last round at Silverstone fresh in his mind – where he stalled on the grid only to be hit by Martin Depper – MacDowall pulled his slow car further to the left towards the pitwall. This time there was no Depper (both literally and metaphorically – Forster Motorsport spting out of the trip north) and the Silverline Chevrolet recovered damage free, though well down the field.

Unaffected by the slow Chevrolet starting ahead of him Matt Neal found a way to leapfrog Steven Kane from third on the grid to give put the Honda Civics first and second when the safety car came out to collect the field at the end of the opening lap.

David Pinkney had run wide at the bottom of the SEAT Curves and slid onto the grass. Fully out of control there was nothing the veteran racer could do to stop his black and pink (what else?) liveried Vectra from careening back into the pack at Scotsman, the near 90 right hander. With almost surgical precision Pinkney's car arrowed in Rob Collard's BMW – the West Surrey Racing driver trying to fight through the field after his race one DNF.

The end result – two damaged cars stranded in the gravel on the outside of the circuit – did nothing to amuse Collard, his mood not helped by the marshalls inadvertently pulling the BMW into a tyre wall on the opposite site of the track or the frustratingly long safety car period that only meant racing resumed on lap eight.

Unleashed Neal wasted little time prizing the lead away from his teammate, but team orders this was not, though the extra points had Neal again reeling in Jason Plato's championship lead, the Honda driver moving back into second in the points race at the expense of Tom Onslow-Cole.

The move, however, was far from difficult, a brief lock up under braking for the hairpin and Neal was through on the inside, but Shedden didn't give up. The Scot appeared determined to take the lead back, using every part of the track, and some parts of the grass to try and gain an advantage, but his teammate was always just far enough ahead that even the rally-crossing tendencies couldn't bring Shedden back on terms, trailing Neal by a shade under half a second at the end of the 27 lap race. The second podium of the day, however, saw Shedden follow his teammate past Tom Onslow-Cole into third in the championship, though their gains on Plato were minimal, as the Chevrolet pilot claimed the final step of the podium.

Plato, along with Kane and Tom Chilton had kept touch with the leading Hondas throughout the race, battling between themselves. Plato had passed Chilton on the pit straight on lap 23, before pushing his way by Kane at the hairpin a few laps later.

The Ulsterman took an ultra-defensive line into the hairpin, hugging the grass on the inside of the track. Plato however, simply delayed his braking long enough to push Kane wide, the tyres on the Airwaves BMW leaving plumes of smoke in protest as the Plato barged past, diving into the gap he created to take third.

The Hondas make their escape while Chilton, Kane and O'Neill tangle

Chilton saw his chance, moving in alongside the BMW down the pit straight to try and drive by to claim fourth. Unable to complete the move on sheer speed the two dove into the SEAT Curves together before making contact at the foot of the hill. Kane went spinning, the rotating BMW clipping Paul O'Neill who was running sixth into his own spin.

Kane held on to finish fifth, though O'Neill – even more the innocent victim – was relegated to tenth for the final point having been passed by Mat Jackson, Tom Onslow-Cole, Andrew Jordan and Alex MacDowall as he recovered from the incident.