Wednesday, 27 June 2012

NASCAR – Kenseth to leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season

Kenseth won the 2012 Daytona 500 for Roush
In what has to be one of the shocks of the season, Roush Fenway Racing stalwart Matt Kenseth has announced he will be leaving the organisation at the end of 2012. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

BTCC 2012 Rounds 10-12 - Oulton Park

The BTCC returned after a 6 week break for 3 action packed races on Cheshire's Oulton Park circuit.

Matt Neal won 2 races
Jason Plato claimed pole for race one after a last minute effort in a damp Saturday qualifying session which saw many sliding as they were caught out by the tricky conditions. However, Plato's weekend soon turned sour after mechanical problems forced his MG to be pushed off the grid, leaving Matt Neal on 'pole' with Rob Collard' BMW right beside him.
As expected, the fast starting rear wheel drive BMW beat Neal's factory Honda Civic off the line but Neal soon closed the gap and retook the lead at lodge as soon as lap 4. Andrew Jordan then passed Collard at Lodge soon after for second. Collard's WSR team mate Tom Onslow-Cole was next to apply pressure, but spun at Cascades bringing out the safety car.

Jordan, who was two seconds adrift of race leader Neal was able to close the gap because of the safety car intervention and stayed close to Neal until the chequred flag. Collard held onto second with a ballast laden Gordon Shedden finishing fourth in the second works Honda, putting him into the points lead.

Will Bratt had an impressive debut

Rob Austin Racing's Will Bratt had an impressive debut finishing in eighth. The former single seater ace took advantage of many incidents to fight from eighteenth on the grid. Proton racer Dan Welch also had a strong showing finishing in sixth.

Race two saw Matt Neal start on pole due to his win in race one. Jason Plato managed to get back out, starting at the rear of the field in a repaired MG6 GT. As with race one though, Collard leapfrogged Neal at the start, utilising his BMW's rear wheel drive to power into the lead from the start. Neal, carrying 45KG of ballast as a result of winning race one then succumbed to a fast Mat Jackson who powered from fifth to second. Shedden and Andrew Jordan also passed Matt Neal.
Shedden now leads the championship
Lap 15 saw Jackson challenge for the lead at Island hairpin. The move resulted in contact between the pair causing them both to suffer punctures. The works Hondas of Shedden and Neal moved into first and third place with the customer Honda of Andrew Jordan seperating them.
Dan Welch was improving on his fantastic race one result. He overtook Neal for third place but a recovering Jason Plato in an extemely fast, ballast free MG began to close the gap and passed Welch and neal, taking third. Welch and Neal maintained fourth and fifth  places respectively. Fourth was Dan Welch's best BTCC result to date.
Will Bratt continued an impressive debut weekend battling for a strong points position before hitting a tyre stack at Knickerbrook. The minor shunt broke his Audi's suspension resulting in retirement for the 24 year old

All the races were action packed
The final race of the day began with Tom Onslow-Cole leading from pole, having been drawn for the reverse grid. The third WSR BMW of Nick Foster rocketed from row two to guarantee two WSR BMWs were in podium positions at the end of the first turn. Matt Neal had a strong opening lap, managing to work his way up and take Foster's third place, and then second after second place runner Liam Griffin crashed. Jason Plato followed Neal in third, also passing Foster.

Plato recovered from his earlier woes to
take third in race three
The safety car was deployed and when racing resumed, a close battle between Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan resulted in the latter ending up in the tyre wall at Old Hall. The safety car was out once again.

Once the safety car peeled back into the pits, Onslow-Cole led a six lap dash to the fag with Neal and Plato in hot pursuit. An error from Onslow-Cole allowed Neal to take the lead. Plato challenged for second but a strong end to his race ensured Onslo-Cole held onto second place.

The final race of the day saw Lea Wood
 takethe best finish of his career so far

Lea Wood had his best BTCC finish in race three with fifth, with the battered and bruised Ford Focus of Mat Jackson in seventh after passing Foster late on. He finished in seventh place.

Neal's win completed a clean sweep for Honda. Shedden and Neal left Oulton park in first and second in the drivers' championship with pre-Oulton Park leader, Jason Plato in third.
The BTCC resumes at Croft in north Yorkshire on the 24th of June.

Full results for qualifying and all three races can be viewed here -