Points leader Gordon Shedden is expecting tough competition from the most familiar of rivals – teammate Matt Neal – this weekend at Rockingham as the British Touring Car Championship enters its final three rounds.
Shedden will start the weekend running with maximum ballast by virtue of leading the championship after his home round at Knockhill. Not only will he have to carry the extra weight through at least qualifying and the opening race but the latest round of performance balancing has added 20kg to the minimum weight of all the turbocharged cars as well decreasing the maximum boost pressure by an extra 0.05 bar.
“Carrying the weight is a pain, but it means you are doing well in the points so that has to be a good thing,” says Shedden, before the latest regulation changes were announced publically. “Qualifying is going to be vital for us at Rockingham, and lugging that extra weight around is going to make things tough.”
“There are three heavy acceleration zones and that is where it is going to hurt us but we know we have a great car in the Civic and the chassis is excellent so hopefully that will help us overcome any handicap. In a sense, Rockingham is one of the worst tracks to come to if you have to carry 45 kilograms but it is the price you have to pay for wins.”
After Mat Jackson's horror weekend at Knockhill the two Honda Racing Team drivers have moved into the top positions in the points, and while both drivers are intent on claiming the title – it would be Neal's third, but Shedden's first title.
The two Civic drivers have already clashed on track once this season, at Oulton Park, an incident that cost the squad a 1-2 finish. Still Shedden predicts a “tough fight“, despite the need to win for the team, Neal, however, is still mindful of the chasing pack lurking behind.
“Myself and Flash will obviously be looking after each other and we are both determined to win the title but we still need to be looking over our shoulders too,” said Neal. “There are so many people still in with a shout of winning this championship that we can't take our eye off the ball. This weekend will be a crucial one.”
Following this weekend at Rockingham the BTCC races at Brands Hatch on October 1-2 before 'Finals Day' at Silverstone on October 15-16.