Gordon Shedden was left disheartened by a weekend to forget at Rockingham last weekend, saying he was simply in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ for much of a meeting where he dropped to 64 points adrift of Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championsip leader, Colin Turkington.
The Honda Yuasa Racing team showed strong pace initially at the Northamptonshire venue, Shedden having qualified fourth on the grid with team-mate Matt Neal ninth as the former entered the weekend 23 points shy of the championship lead.
Unfortunately for the Scot, he suffered a steering wound following contact with Jason Plato at Pif Paf as he went up the inside of the Triple Eight MG during their race one battle for third place, the 2012 champion slipping to eighth by the finish as a catalyst of the incident.
Both Honda drivers were soon swamped off the line in race two, Shedden holding on for another eighth place while Neal recovered to 14th, only for the final encounter of the day to end early for Shedden after contact damaged his Civic Tourer terminally this time during a first-lap skirmish.
“There’s not much to say about it really” a disconsolate Shedden told The Checkered Flag afterwards having slipped to third in the table and 64 points of Turkington adrift in the title race. “Nothing that wouldn’t at least get me into trouble.”
“The car was good in races one and two, but then my steering got damaged and it was downhill from there really. Just one of those things – what can you do about it.”
The third and final race at the Corby venue was the first time Shedden failed to finish a BTCC race in a hugely consistent campaign for the Scot.
The incident occurred halfway around the opening lap at Pif Paf, where contact with the Audi A4 of Hunter Abbott left his Civic Tourer with broken steering, Shedden commenting: “It all got a bit tight on the first lap, Hunter came across the front of me and spun, then while he was spinning managed to come back straight into the side of me which broke the steering and that was it really. Wrong place, wrong time simply.
Honda Yuasa Racing Technical Director Barry Plowman concurred that the visit to Rockingham was one the team would rather consign to the history books, but had not given up hope in the championship just yet, despite beliefs that Honda will struggle at the straight-line speed friendly Silverstone National circuit.
“It was a tough weekend and one that it’s fair to say fell a long way shy of our expectations,” he said. “As a team, we put the same effort in as we always do, but the results just weren’t forthcoming and that was doubly disappointing, because the Civic Tourer performed well and was fast and competitive throughout.
“Matt’s pace on the soft tyres in race three was clearly a positive, but it was frustrating for him and for us that he worked his absolute socks off to come away with only ninth position! This weekend was obviously a blow, but we will fight back.
Honda lost their lead in the Manufacturers Championship also, but lie just 22 points behind MG with six races to go, Plowman adding: “The main focus – as it always has been – is the manufacturers’ title, and the battle for that is not over by any means.”
Neal on the other hand ended his tough weekend with a charge through to ninth place on the softer tyre in race three, adding: “I always say you’ve got to have the rough weekends to appreciate the good ones, and the bottom line is that the Civic Tourer is now better than the hatch ever was. The cards didn’t fall our way this time, but we need to look forward rather than back and there’s still plenty more racing left to be had this year.”