Monday, 17 October 2011

Neal Crowned 2011 BTCC Champion

After an eventful weekend of unforgiving punctures, bumper nudging and neck-and-neck racing, Matt Neal held it together to take the British Touring Car Championship title of 2011, in the final race.
Matt Neal Celebrates 3rd Championship Title
 The Honda Racing team-mates entered the final meeting of the season at Silverstone, both in with a chance of taking the title. Gordon Shedden was unable to snatch the lead from Neal, and unfortunately, once again, missing out on a Championship win.
For the third time in his career, Worcestershire’s Neal claimed one of motorsport’s most prestigious titles in the world and on top of that, a record entry of 30 cars appearing on the grid meant the BTCC season came to a tyre screeching close.
James Nash is Awarded the Independents Trophy
Five drivers headed to Silverstone in Northamptonshire last weekend -the first five-way showdown in BTCC history- all in with a chance of being crowned this year’s champion. Silverline Chevrolet driver and previous reigning champion, Jason Plato knew he would have a tough time trying to catch the NGTC Honda’s, doing the long straights of the famous circuit, in his standard-aspirated Chevy, and after a puncture in race one, his chance of defending the title slipped away. Mat Jackson was out of luck, suffering from two punctures throughout the day and his chances of taking the championship became impossible.

Meanwhile, in the first race, although unable to compete further for the championship, Buckinghamshire’s James Nash aged just 25 finished third in his 888 Racing Collins Contractors Vauxhall Vectra, achieving the Independents Trophy in his first full season in the British Touring Cars.

Matt Neal & Gordon Shedden battle in Race One
A consistent drive from Neal, after taking a pole-to-flag finish in race one, and a 2nd place result in race two, meant he was able to get a step closer to securing the championship title. Shedden began to put on the pressure, finishing just behind him in race one and taking victory in race two, meant he was just 6 points behind Neal heading into the third and final race of the season; A fantastic result for Team Dynamics, scoring a 1-2 finish in both races.

In race three, the reverse grid meant both drivers were to start further down the pack. Having to finish 4th with team-mate, Neal behind, Shedden wasn’t prepared to take the risk.
Team Aon Ford Focus Dynamics Squad driver, Tom Chilton took the checkered flag ahead of 2010 champion Plato in second; the third time he has won the championship deciding race.

Team Honda Dynamics Racing take
 Constructors Championship
 Meanwhile, Neal crossed the line in eighth, two positions ahead of Shedden adding to his previous titles in 2005 and 2006 –the first triple BTCC Champion since Andy Rouse in the early eighties. “This has been the toughest of my three titles to win – the competition has been extraordinarily high and Gordon has been such a hard team-mate to beat,” Championship winner, Matt Neal said to MPA Creative Media. “To have my name on the trophy for a third time alongside so many great names …I am overwhelmed. It means the world to me.”
Neal and Shedden’s partnership enabled Dynamics and the Honda Racing Team to win the BTCC’s coveted Manufacturers/Constructors and HiQ Teams Championships.

A fantastic end to the 2011 BTCC Championship!

By Sophie Williamson-Stothert

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