Deficit overcome as the Scotsman becomes a triple champion
Halfords Yuasa Racing star Gordon Shedden has dramatically defended the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the conclusion of an action-packed day of racing at Brands Hatch.
The Scotsman needed to overcome a two point deficit to standings leader Sam Tordoff heading into the final race of the season, and the now triple champion made the all-important move by his rival on lap seven.
The duo were tussling over third place with Mat Jackson and Aiden Moffat already up the road, but it was all eyes of the title fight. The huge 45,000-strong crowd held its collective breath as Shedden hauled his Honda Civic Type R down the inside of Tordoff’s Team JCT600 with GardX machine on the run down to Clearways, before completing the move on the exit of Clark Curve.
Shedden fended off further attacks and even a late safety car period to maintain third position, superbly securing the title in the process. The Honda man had been fighting back throughout the year, following a challenging start to his title defence, and the 37-year-old finally returned the championship summit as the chequered flag fell on the last race of the season. Shedden’s success was all the more impressive as he became the first driver to win back-to-back titles since Fabrizio Giovanardi in 2007 and 2008.
Mat Jackson took a brilliant win for Motorbase Performance in the final contest, ahead of a stunning standout drive to second spot from Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat, whilst Adam Morgan’s Mercedes eventually finished ahead of the unfortunate Tordoff.
The day’s earlier races at the legendary Kent circuit had been won by Silverline Subaru BMR Racing’s Colin Turkington, with Rob Austin and Josh Cook scoring impressive podium positions in the opener. Plato and Shedden followed the Ulsterman home in the second bout.
Despite Tordoff narrowly missing out on the Drivers’ crown, West Surrey Racing secured the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ championship for BMW while Team JCT600 with GardX won the Teams’ titles.
Andrew Jordan took the Independents Drivers’ trophy and Motorbase Performance won Independents Teams’ honours.
After a season long battle with Michael Epps, the Jack Sears Trophy eventually went to Ashley Sutton, with the MG Racing RCIB Insurance driver starring throughout his maiden BTCC campaign.
When the dust settled on an unforgettable occasion, it was Shedden celebrating winning the most coveted prize in British motor sport for the third time in his career, pipping Tordoff by just two points.
Jackson claimed third overall ahead of Turkington, whilst Collard and Matt Neal rounded out the standings top six. Triple champion Neal was forced to miss the final race of the season after a heavy accident in the second encounter left him suffering with slight concussion.
Today’s action brought down the curtain on another record breaking season in the BTCC, which included 12 different race winners for the first time ever and an unprecedented eight title contenders going into the final weekend of the season.
The calendar for the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is already set, again comprising of 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK. The season will commence at Brands Hatch in April and conclude on the iconic Grand Prix circuit at the same venue in October.
Gordon Shedden said: “It’s unbelievable – an incredible feeling. I’ve felt really relaxed all weekend, but even going into race three, I thought it was going to be really difficult – and it was! In terms of entertainment, the BTCC has once again delivered in spades as the title battle went all the way down to the last race – and what a storming race it was! It was a shame Matt (Neal) couldn’t join in – it would have been good to have him up there pushing for the title too, because he has had really good pace today.
“All year, I’ve really stuck my neck on the line and made some bold, heart-in-the-mouth moves that were on the edge more often than not. After Croft back in June, it looked like we were down-and-out, but we stuck to our guns, kept plugging away and gave it absolutely everything to claw our way back. It just goes to show that every single point really does count in this championship.
“Winning the championship for the first time felt phenomenal, last year was a real rollercoaster ride and this year it was just a huge release of emotion. I might allow myself a few cups of tea and a Tunnock’s Teacake to celebrate tonight…
“Sam (Tordoff) has driven well all year. I’ve enjoyed clean racing all season, and even in that last race he was very fair. His time will come – and it won’t be far away.”