DROITWICH-based Halfords Yuasa Racing team’s Matt Neal and Dan Cammish battled hard to secure vital points on a challenging weekend of racing in the British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham.
Both drivers showed strong pace on track at the wheel of their Honda Civic Type Rs but found themselves unable to push for a place on the podium due to the forceful nature of racing in the midfield.
Bouyed by his victory in the special ‘Diamond Double’ race last time out at Snetterton, Neal found himself on the back foot going into race day after a difficult Saturday with the team forced to change the engine on his car ahead of qualifying.
Having got the triple champion out on track, Neal qualified just a second away from pole position, although the close nature of the grid meant he found himself 29th on the grid for race one.
Delayed by an incident at the start, Neal fought hard in race one to finish in 18th spot, and showed top six pace in both races two and three, although plenty of contact in the midfield meant he had to settle for 14th and 15th place finishes respectively.
Series rookie Cammish came close to securing a maiden pole position in qualifying for race one, where he picked up a fifth place finish, despite carrying damage as a legacy of contact on the opening lap.
Rain ahead of the second race created challenging conditions on track, with Cammish one of those drivers caught out by a damp patch on the circuit as he ran wide at Deene whilst fighting for tenth place – an incident which left him outside the points in 21st spot.
However, the Yorkshireman fought back well in race three, despite being on the less favourable hard tyre to end his weekend with a second top ten finish.
The points scored in the final race allowed the Honda teams to top score among the manufacturer entries to maintain second in the Manufacturers’ Championship while Halfords Yuasa Racing ended the weekend just two points away from the lead of the Teams Championship.
Neal sits in fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship, just 12 points off the top three with Cammish just a point away from the top ten.
Cammish also retains the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy standings.
Neal said: “You can’t hide from the fact that it’s been a tough weekend for us and luck hasn’t been on our side.
“We were really on the back foot after qualifying because the margins have been so close that we found ourselves towards the rear of the field and it was always going to be tough from there.
“The lap times showed the Civic was a quick car and to end it with a manufacturers win in race three is a positive.
“However, it’s onwards and upwards from here and we have to focus on the next round at Knockhill.”
Cammish added: “I feel I got the best I could from the car in race three and P21 to P10 was a good way to end what had been a tough meeting where we haven’t been able to pick up the results which our pace deserved.”