By Jamie Arrowsmith 16/08 Updated: 16/08 17:04
WORCESTERSHIRE race ace Matt Neal retained his lead at the top of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship drivers’ standings despite a frustrating weekend at Snetterton.
The Honda Racing Team endured a tough time at the Norfolk circuit with incidents on and off the track meaning they could not add to their tally of ten wins in the first 15 races.
Problems began in free practice when steering issues hampered reigning champion and points leader Neal and a fuel system problem caused team-mate Gordon Shedden’s car to catch fire.
Shedden escaped unharmed and the blaze was quickly extinguished, but the damage was severe and Shedden had to sit out the second session.
Neal, with the maximum 45kg of success ballast, qualified seventh for the first race and finished fourth while Shedden moved through from the back of the field to finish seventh.
The Wychbold racer’s weekend did not improve in race two as he clashed with arch rival Jason Plato while disputing the lead of the race and eventually finished fourth.
Shedden took a fine third on the road in the final encounter, but then lost the place - and the championship lead - when he was excluded due to accidental over-boosting from the Civic’s turbo.
Neal recovered from an early clash to take eighth and maintain Honda’s one-two in the driver standings.
“It’s been a rotter, but it’s the regulations,” Neal said.
“Nothing can live with the Honda on the brakes and there are positives for the weekend - a win for Andy Jordan is a silver lining on the cloud. You’ve got to have the rough ones to appreciate the good ones.”
Neal now leads Shedden by eight points in the drivers’ standings and is ten points clear of Jason Plato in third. The squad comfortably head the manufacturers’ and teams’ tables ahead of next race at Knockhill on August 26.
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