BTCC Honda Racing Report - Rounds 13th and 14th
Date: August 10, 2003 18:07
Well, just a brief comment before the articles.
Once again, the CTR's were the fastest cars in the track, both in the touring and production classes, but once again they failed to win both races because of some bad luck or minor problems ... It really makes me think about F1 this year .. I really hope Honda's luck is gonna change soon :-) !!!! For now, this track saw Mat Neal grab the 3th spot in the drivers championship, and a Honda 1-2 in the second race, so it wasn't so bad, even if it could have been much better
So near but yet so far for Morrison
Alan Morrison looked on course for his first British Touring Car Championship win of the season at Snetterton before a snapped alternator cable put him out of the race with only four laps remaining. Following an accident at the start that held up some of the front runners, Morrison was able to jump from eighth place on the grid to second behind his team-mate Matt Neal at the end of a frantic opening lap.
Neal had also had a great start and got ahead of pole position James Thompson, but Morrison was right behind him and keeping the pressure on. Neal was the first of the Honda drivers to pit when the window opened on lap 10 and it was from then that Morrison took the advantage. He came back into the field after his pitstop one lap later ahead of O'Neill, Thompson and Neal. It looked as though everything was in place for the Ulsterman to claim his first race win of 2003. But it was not to be and electrical problems forced him to retire.
Matt Neal also had a frustrating race. Having led at the start he lost time on the pit stop after a slow out-lap and then he ran wide on the exit of the chicane on the next lap. That mistake lost him crucial time and he came home in fourth position.
Tom Chilton, who had achieved his best ever grid position of third in this morning's qualifying, was unlucky to be caught up in the debris of the start line accident. The youngster from Surrey felt a hard tap on the left side of his car and thought that the damage was enough to put him out of the race. But he managed to keep the car going for an early stop to repair the damage. It was another brilliant drive from the 18-year-old that saw him characteristically work his way skilfully through the field to finish the race in sixth place.
Matt Neal: "I'm obviously disappointed with that. I just seemed to loose time after the pit stop and then I was mindful of the tyres because of the heat. I lost three places after the stop and just couldn't seem to get my way back. Now I'm just looking forward to the second race."
Alan Morrison: "I really thought I had my fist win in the bag. Everything was going well. I had a good stop and got ahead of Matt but then I just started losing power. First the dash lights went out and then I lost more and more power until the car stopped. I'm going to do the best I can in the second race but it's going to be really hard work from the back of the grid."
Tom Chilton: "How unlucky was that! I knew that a few cars would try and go for the same gap but I didn't expect to get caught up in it. I ended up at the back of the field and what a job it was on such a hot day. But I just kept going like I always do, so overall I was pleased to finish sixth."
Result (25 laps):
Pos Driver Time
1 Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall) 34:55:549
2 James Thompson (Vauxhall) +1.037
3 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall) +2.277
4 Matt Neal (Honda Racing) Colin Turkington (MG) +3.281
5 Anthony Reid (MG) +18.602
6 Tom Chilton (Honda Racing) +20.945
7 James Kaye (Honda) +23.978
8 Robert Collard (Vauxhall) +25.307
9 Phil Bennett (Proton) +1:07:706
10 Luke Hines (Honda) +1:16:221
- Alan Morrison (Honda Racing) DNF
Fastest lap: Alan Morrison (Honda Racing), 1:13:466
Civic Type R on top at Snetterton
Honda Racing's misfortune finally changed in the 14th round of the British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton with all three Civic Type Rs finishing in the top five. Matt Neal had a brilliant drive, leading the race from the end of the first lap until the chequered flag. The 36-year-old Worcestershire driver won his fourth race of the season in dramatic style from his team-mate Alan Morrison, with Tom Chilton in fifth.
Morrison had also put in a fantastic performance. Starting from the back of the grid the Ulsterman was up to fifth place by the time that the pit stop window opened at the end of lap ten. Morrison was one of the first of the leading group to pit. By the time all the stops were complete he had gained two more places and was chasing Matt Neal and James Thompson for the lead.
Thompson kept the pressure on Neal throughout, but on the final lap the Vauxhall suffered a mechanical problem that forced him to retire. That allowed Morrison through to take second and make it a Honda Racing one-two at the Norfolk circuit.
Tom Chilton also had another excellent drive to finish fifth. The 18-year-old Surrey driver has come of age in the Civic Type R and was a constant threat to Antony Reid and Colin Turkington throughout in the battle for the lower leaderboard placings.
Matt Neal: "I'm delighted with the win and it's fantastic for Honda Racing to have all three cars finish in the top five. It's a great result for the team, who have worked really hard over the past two days. The race however wasn't without incident for me. I had a shunt from one of the Vauxhalls early in the race and that affected my exhaust. Then, I started hitting false neutrals which made it difficult in certain parts of the track. However, I can't fault the car. It was really on the money and was the top performer here at Snetterton this weekend."
Alan Morrison: "It's been a mixed weekend for me really. After the disappointment in the first race, I drove as hard as I dared to bring it home on the podium in the second. I got a really good start again and just kept going. Obviously I'm still disappointed to have missed out in the first race, but I'm happy for Matt and the most important thing is that it was a great result for Honda Racing."
Tom Chilton: "I had a good race but I think I could have got third. At one stage I was really challenging Anthony Reid but I was conscious of not doing anything reckless. The bottom line is that we pulled off an excellent result for Honda Racing and I have moved up to seventh in the championship table."
Result (25 laps):
Pos Driver Time
1 Matt Neal (Honda Racing) 31:33:337
2 Alan Morrison (Honda Racing) +0.335
3 Anthony Reid (MG) +3.494
4 Colin Turkington (MG) +3.905
5 Tom Chilton (Honda Racing) +5.148
6 Robert Collard (Vauxhall) +5.647
7 Carl Breeze (Vauxhall) +7.184
8 Warren Hughes (MG) +14.289
9 David Leslie (Proton) +18.775
10 Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall) +19.207
Fastest lap: Matt Neal (Honda Racing) 1:13:247
Points (after 14 rounds)
1 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall) 163
2 James Thompson (Vauxhall) 150
3 Matt Neal (Honda Racing) 106
4 Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall) 102
5 Anthony Reid (MG) 91
6 Alan Morrison (Honda Racing) 89
7 Tom Chilton (Honda Racing) 53
8 Warren Hughes (MG) 52
9 Colin Turkington (MG) 41
10 Robert Collard (Vauxhall) 32