Gordon Shedden is braced for a tough weekend ahead at his home round of the British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, expecting ballast to weigh heavily on his chances of holding his championship lead.
Shedden enters the sixth weekend of the season with a slim two point gap over two-time champion Colin Turkington, and while he was looking forward to his home event, he said it would give him no advantage during the coming trio of races.
“It’s nice to come back and race in Scotland, because I only get one chance to do it every year,” he told The Checkered Flag. “In terms of the racing it will be a tough weekend, just with the success ballast. I’ve got 75kg of ballast in the car for qualifying and the first race. Having said that, the crowd definitely gives you a bit of extra lift, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Dynamics Honda package had looked the strongest early in the season, despite mishaps for team-mate Matt Neal in the opening rounds of the year. While the likes of the West Surrey Racing BMWs and BMR Subarus have dominated recent events at Croft and Snetterton, Shedden insisted the team were not falling behind, attributing the changes to success ballast.
“I think it’s purely ballast. The Subarus had a bad start to the year, so they qualified in the last three rounds really with no weight at all, or very little weight. They got a boost increase about three rounds ago, which fell exactly into line as to when they started improving their performance on track.
“All we can do is the best we can. The boost gets reallocated after every three rounds, that is the championship regulation, and we have just finished round six, so there should be a re-evaluation of the boost again prior to Knockhill. Hopefully it’s done in as fair a way as possible.”
Having led the drivers’ championship at the half-way point of the season for the first time this year, Shedden was quick to defend the ballast system, despite the extent he expected it to compromise his home race.
“I think it’s something everyone signs up to. The one great thing about the ballast is it does switch the results around. You see that week on week; you don’t have any idea whose going to win next, you find cars having different performance from event to event and that’s what makes it spectacular and keeps the crowd entertained.
“It’s there, it’s part of the rules. It’s not ideal when you’ve got it, but I do understand the reasons we do have it and what it achieves.”
With so little difference in points between the title protagonists, Shedden expects his main championship rivals will get the better of him around the 2.1 mile circuit.
“It’s all really close because we’ve got four drivers within eleven points,” he said. “It’s difficult for me as I’m the only front-wheel drive car in the Top 4. That will play swings and roundabouts as the year goes on.
“I do think the rear-wheel drive cars will be strong around Knockhill, as they come out of the hairpin very well. We should maybe be a little bit better at Rockingham and possibly Silverstone, and then it’s gloves off come Brands Hatch at the end of the year.
Rob Collard is desperate to win, Ashley Sutton will be desperate to win, and Colin will be desperate to get his third championship, so it’s coming from all angles at the minute.”