Shedden on pole as Honda lock-out front row again

Gordon Shedden beat his team-mate Matt Neal in qualifying at Oulton Park to take a second pole in a row, while an inspired Andy Neate took third place for Arena Ford.

The Scot – lying fifth in the drivers standings coming into the round – was the first man to set a threatening lap time in the early stages of the session with a 1.27.355s lap that was marginally quicker than his following team-mate Neal.

Neal lowered his own personal best lap time to a 1.27.505, but that was not enough to beat his rapid team-mate as he trailed by a mere 0.150s before a Honda one-two was confirmed when the session was red flagged and subsequently brought to an end due to oil at Cascades.

The stoppage was caused due to Airwaves Ford’s Liam Griffin damaging the car over the curbs at the exit of the high-speed Old Hall corner that starts the lap, the car dropping oil running down to Cascades that saw many cars – including his team-mate Mat Jackson – losing control and damaging their cars across the grass in the process such as the Audi of Rob Austin and the returning Speedworks Toyota of Tony Hughes.

The star of qualifying turned out to be Andy Neate, who set a brilliant lap early in the session also to seal a personal best third place starting spot for tomorrow, after what has been a trying start to the season with no points to his name and a best starting spot of 10th at the Brands Hatch season opener.

Neate’s effort, four tenths off the pole position time, was enough to beat the likes of reigning champion Jason Plato, the man many people – including Neal – expected to be a contender for pole position, but he had to settle for the second row of the grid after only managing fourth place, narrowly missing out on eclipsing Neate’s time as he finished only 0.007s behind the Ford driver.

Andrew Jordan finished outside the top four for the first time this season in qualifying but still ended the session fifth after a solid lap, ahead of Neate’s Arena Ford team-mate Tom Chilton in sixth position.

Plato’s team-mate Alex MacDowall meanwhile finished in seventh position, but had an eventful day which he ended on the sidelines following a spin at Old Hall midway through the 30-minute session and then damaging the Chevrolet Cruze in a seperate incident to the one that brought proceedings to a halt.

Paul O’Neill (Techspeed Chevrolet) used all the track and more en route to finishing the session a creditable eighth place, with James Nash (Triple Eight Vauxhall) and Jackson rounding out the top 10 for tomorrow’s first of three races.

Dave Newsham finished his first qualifying session in a Special Tuning Racing-run SEAT Leon in 16th place, while Frank Wrathall showed signs of improvement with the Dynojet NGTC-specification Toyota Avensis by out-qualifying Nick Foster (WSR BMW) and last year’s pole sitter and race one winner Tom Onslow-Cole (AMD Milltek Volkswagen) for 18th.

Qualifying results:

 1.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                 1m27.355s

 2.  Matt Neal        Honda                  + 0.150s

 3.  Andy Neate       Arena Ford             + 0.423s

 4.  Jason Plato      Chevrolet              + 0.427s

 5.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxhall      + 0.559s

 6.  Tom Chilton      Arena Ford             + 0.689s

 7.  Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet              + 0.736s

 8.  Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 0.923s

 9.  James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 0.964s

10.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford         + 1.090s

11.  Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall      + 1.153s

12.  Tom Boardman     Special Tuning SEAT    + 1.174s

13.  Tony Gilham      Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 1.229s

14.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW                + 1.262s

15.  Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford         + 1.380s

16.  Dave Newsham     Special Tuning SEAT    + 1.413s

17.  John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 1.835s

18.  Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota         + 1.897s

19.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW                + 2.043s

20.  Tom Onslow-Cole  AmD Volkswagen         + 2.398s

21.  Lea Wood         Central Honda          + 2.439s

22.  Rob Austin       Austin Audi            + 2.546s

23.  Chris James      ES Chevrolet           + 3.659s

24.  Tony Hughes      Speedworks Toyota      + 4.250s

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