Halfords Yuasa Racing brought its 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season to a spectacular conclusion at Brands Hatch as Dan Cammish twice led home Matt Neal in a pair of perfect 1-2 results to break his BTCC victory duck.
On a landmark day for Halfords Yuasa Racing and the new-for-2018 Honda Civic Type R (FK8) at the culmination of the series 60th anniversary season, a peerless performance saw Cammish and Neal complete a formation finish in race once before the pair repeated the feat in race two.
Qualifying on the front row, Cammish shadowed Brett Smith through the opening lap before launching his attack into Paddock Hill Bend, nosing ahead into a lead he’d retain to the chequered flag for the first win of his burgeoning BTCC career. With Neal succeeding in working his way into second place behind his team-mate, Halfords Yuasa Racing celebrated its first 1-2 of the season.
Dan Cammish said: “It’s been an incredible day for myself, Honda and the entire Halfords Yuasa Racing team. Standing on top of the BTCC podium for the first time is a moment I will never forget, so to do it all over again with Matt alongside me in another 1-2 just makes the achievement all the sweeter. Everything came together in race one and the Civic Type R performed perfectly, but we thought it’d be a tough ask to win race two with the ballast on-board. However, I got my foot down early to make hay and I was able to hang on to the end. It’s a wonderful way to conclude my first season in the BTCC, one that gives me huge motivation heading into the off-season. Congratulations to Colin Turkington and Team BMW for their title win today.”
With a front-row lock-out their reward in race two, Cammish and Neal shrugged off their maximum success ballast to hold position early on. From here, a tenacious Cammish skilfully negated the limitations of the weight to complete a lights-to-flag, back-to-back victory as Neal doubled the delight once more by completing another 1-2.
While mid-field skirmishes contributed to Neal and Cammish finishing down the order in their final outing for 2018, it did nothing to dampen spirits as Honda and Halfords Yuasa Racing head into the off-season carrying huge momentum.
Complementing his title-winning success in the Jack Sears Trophy, Cammish’s double victory multiplies Halfords Yuasa Racing’s 2018 victory tally to four, including Neal’s historic ‘Diamond Double’ success at Snetterton in July, plus two pole positions and 13 podiums.
Matt Neal commented: “I cannot think of a better way to complete our first season racing the Honda Civic Type R [FK8] and I am especially delighted to see Dan on top of the podium, not once but twice! We really wanted a good result to take into the off-season and a double 1-2 result is exactly that. It’s been another fantastic BTCC season but today demonstrates exactly what Honda and Halfords Yuasa Racing is capable of with this new car, which gives me a lot of encouragement for the future. More than anything, we wanted to win it for a key member of our team that we have lost, so that one is for you Wainy (Mark Wain – longstanding Team Dynamics member, who sadly passed away two weeks ago). Finally, a huge congratulations to Colin and BMW for clinching the BTCC title, what a brilliant season he has had.”
In the final drivers’ classification, a closely-matched Neal and Cammish end the season ninth and tenth respectively, with Honda sealing runners-up spot in the manufacturers’ reckoning and Halfords Yuasa Racing second in the teams’ standings.
With the BTCC’s traditionally tight margins in evidence once more during qualifying around the 2.638km National configuration of the iconic venue, Neal and Cammish had given the Team Dynamics-backed Honda squad reason to be positive of a podium challenge after claiming sixth and 11th on the grid respectively.
However, Neal’s hopes of Silverstone silverware in any of the three races were all but scuppered just two laps into the first encounter of the day when he was innocently collected by a wayward rival spinning into the path of his Honda Civic Type-R (FK8) at Becketts.
Consigned to the garage after suffering terminal rear suspension damage, with Neal’s race two grid position reflected in his early retirement from race one he was forced to push forward from a lowly 29th on the grid. Undeterred, Neal demonstrated sheer determination to scythe his way back to the points in 14th.
It was momentum Neal proceeded to carry through into the final outing of the day, the three-time champion suggesting what could have been with the benefit of better fortune by clawing his way back into contention for a hard-fought seventh place, a mere three seconds from the win. Neal commented: “It has been a positive end to a weekend that could have delivered a lot more. Unfortunately, the incident in race one set the scene for the remainder of the day and the fact it was entirely out of our control just makes it all the more frustrating. Nonetheless, we worked hard as a team to get the car ready for race two and it’s satisfying to race back into the points from the back of the grid. We carried that momentum into race three as myself and Dan worked our way through the traffic. If there were a few more laps available I am confident we would have taken at least three more places. On a positive note, the Civic Type-R felt quick all weekend so I am already looking ahead to the final round at Brands Hatch where the Halfords Yuasa Racing team will look to end the season on a high!”
Cammish, meanwhile, progressed from the sixth row of the grid to secure tenth place in a tightly-contested first race of the day before a battling performance using the mandatory hard tyres saw him take the chequered flag in 15th during race two.
Like Neal though, Cammish saved his best for last as the pair worked together to make gains through the order with the rookie racer following his team-mate home in eighth position.
His triple-scoring efforts mean Cammish is the winner of the illustrious Jack Sears Trophy for 2018. Named in honour of the series’ inaugural champion in 1958 and eligible to drivers who began the season having never achieved a BTCC podium, Cammish quickly established himself as the driver to beat by stepping on the rostrum as early as round two, a feat he’d repeat on three further occasions.
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Automechanika Frankfurt is the world’s leading trade fair for the automotive service industry and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
A Honda driver has finished on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium at Knockhill every year since 2009, and Dan Cammish kept that proud tradition going this weekend (25/26 August) with a head-turning performance for Halfords Yuasa Racing north of the border.
Around an undulating, rollercoaster ride of a circuit that historically favours rear wheel-drive machinery, Cammish upset the formbook in qualifying by speeding to his maiden BTCC pole position behind the wheel of the new Civic Type R (FK8) – making him the best average qualifier of the 2018 campaign to-date.
The heavens opened on race day, soaking the picturesque Fife racetrack, but the inclement conditions did not deter Honda’s standout rookie, who leapt off the line into the lead at the start of the curtain-raiser and confidently held sway at the front of the field throughout the opening 11 laps.
Although ultimately powerless to resist the rear wheel-drive onslaught, Cammish clung on valiantly to take the chequered flag third – and top front wheel-drive competitor – before replicating that result in race two following a hard-fought battle. The Yorkshireman was denied the opportunity to make it a points-scoring hat-trick in race three by mechanical issues, but could nonetheless reflect upon a thoroughly impressive weekend.
Cammish said: ” “If you’d offered me two top three finishes before the start of the weekend, I would have snapped your hand off! I was over the moon to secure my first BTCC pole position, although I don’t think anybody really gave me a prayer of getting to the first corner still in front in race one – at the end of the day, physics are physics and rear wheel-drive cars launch better than front wheel-drive cars do. I got away very well, though, and I did arrive there first and then made hay for the opening few laps while the RWD boys brought their tyres up to temperature. Eventually, that advantage was negated, but to hold onto third I thought was a really good effort – for me, that was effectively a win. Race two was a pretty sensible job too in very difficult conditions – it would have been so easy to put the car in the barriers trying to be a hero for just one more place. It was obviously a shame to conclude the weekend with the problem in race three, but that doesn’t take the overall shine away.”
Hamstrung by having to carry 39kg of success ballast in both qualifying and race one, team-mate Matt Neal lined up a frustrated 21st on the closely-contested grid, before being removed from contention at mid-distance by an errant rival. From thereon in, his weekend became an exercise in damage limitation, and the three-time champion showcased his skill to rise to 17th in race two and a points-scoring 15th in the finale.
The results leave Neal ninth in the Drivers’ standings and Cammish tenth, with Honda and Halfords Yuasa Racing second in the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ tables respectively ahead of the remaining two outings at Silverstone (15/16 September) and Brands Hatch GP (29/30 September).
Neal commented: “This weekend has just gone to emphasise how important qualifying is in the BTCC, and it’s always incredibly tight at Knockhill – I was barely six tenths-of-a-second adrift of Dan, and that equated to 20 places! Yes, I was carrying a bit more weight, but that didn’t explain the whole time loss – we tried a different tyre strategy to Dan, which evidently didn’t pay off. That was then compounded by the rain, because the problem with being down the order in those conditions is visibility – you literally cannot see a thing. It got pretty lively out there, although my fun in race one ended when I was helped off the track at the final hairpin. Race two was another adventure – I almost went into the end of the pit wall at one stage – and we just lost the front tyres halfway through race three, like a lot of the front wheel-drive cars did. You need a bit of luck in the BTCC, and that’s clearly been lacking for us this weekend but on the positive side, we’ll be lighter going to Silverstone and we will bounce back.”
Watch the exclusive interview with Dan Cammish at Knockhill here:
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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 that saw 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.
Matt 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. Some of the racing in the mid-pack is brutal and I found myself trying to look after the car as best I could but have still come away with quite a bit of damage. The lap times showed that the Civic Type R was a quick car this weekend 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.”
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 that left him instead 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.
Dan Cammish said: “I think character building is a good way to sum the weekend up for me. It’s clear to see that we had good pace in the car on Saturday and on another day we could have had pole and then would have avoided the incident at the start of race one, which just unfortunate. The field bunched up and I made contact with Sam [Tordoff], which was completely unintentional and the last thing I wanted to do. We carried some damage after that but managed to bring home some points in fifth place but the mixed conditions in race two didn’t favour us and I found myself on a damp part of the circuit fighting for position and it cost me. 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 has been a tough meeting where we haven’t been able to pick up the results that our pace deserved.”
The points scored in the final race allowed the Honda teams’ to top score amongst the manufacturer entries to maintain second in the Manufacturers’ Championship whilst Halfords Yuasa Racing ends the weekend just two points away from the lead of the Teams Championship.
Neal sits in fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship, just twelve 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.
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