Owen's turbos set pace at Knockhill BTCC
Tom Chilton, Gordon Shedden and Tom Boardman shared the wins in today's three exhilarating Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the highly spectacular Knockhill circuit in Fife. Leaving his home circuit for the BTCC's next round at the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire in a fortnight's time (17-18 September) it is Shedden who leads the standings by a single point from his Honda team-mate Neal, both driving Civics using Owen Developments BTCC control turbochargers.
Chilton, from Reigate, had achieved the first pole position for Team Aon's new turbocharged 'Global' Ford Focus in Saturday's qualifying session and he took full advantage of that to lead all the way in the first of today's races and give the car its maiden victory as well. Neal and Shedden followed in second and third spots in their Honda Racing Team turbocharged Civics - a result that meant they jointly led the standings?
Race two saw Dalgety Bay's Shedden pass Worcestershire's Neal for a famous win on home ground to move three points clear in the title race. Neal finished second to complete a Honda 1-2. Third, achieving the first outright podium result for a car built to the BTCC's latest Next Generation Touring Car technical regulations, was Preston's Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet Toyota Avensis.
In race three, an ecstatic Boardman achieved his and his Preston-based Special Tuning Racing team's first victory in the BTCC after a collision between his SEAT Leon and reigning Champion Jason Plato's Silverline Chevrolet Cruze caused the latter to crash out. Hook's Robert Collard chased Boardman to the line but had to settle for second in his WSR BMW. Taking another third place was Wrathall as Neal and Shedden followed in fourth and fifth.
The pair leave Scotland separated by just one point and some considerable distance now ahead of their rivals led by Airwaves Racing Ford Focus driver Mat Jackson - the Henley-in-Arden racer had led the standings arriving at Knockhill but uncharacteristically crashed out of all three of today's races.
Shedden commented: "It feels great to be leading it finally, but Matt has two titles on me and knows how to apply the pressure so it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out. OK, we've built a bit of a lead now over the rest but no way is it over - there are still nine races left and a shed load of points to be won and you just have to look at poor Jackson today to see how quickly it can go wrong."
Neal, from Droitwich Spa, added: "After the awful time I had last time out at Snetterton this was just what I needed to get back in the title hunt. But Gordon has been on great form and he really is now a very difficult driver to beat whatever the conditions. Sure, it's all played into our hands today but we can't rest on our laurels. There are plenty of drivers in there capable of messing it up for us."
A dejected Jackson commented: "I think that's it now, realistically. They've got 20-plus points on me and even though there are more than 150 available from the final nine races (at Rockingham, Brands Hatch and Silverstone) I cannot see both of them giving up a lead like that. The pace of our car this weekend has been terrific but we've just suffered some really cruel luck. We'll give it everything in the final three rounds - we have nothing to lose now."
Consequently, Jackson's three retirements mean his lead in the Independents Trophy has been slashed to just five points by 888 Racing with Collins Contractors' James Nash. Likewise his Airwaves team's lead in the Independent Teams Trophy has been cut to just one point by 888/Collins. Meanwhile Shedden and Neal's results have enabled Honda/Dynamics and their Honda Racing Team - running Owen Developments control BTCC turbochargers - to massively stretch their respective leads in the Manufacturer/Constructor and HiQ Teams championships.