Pat Cranham, BTCC correspondent
Local hero Gordon Shedden has taken victory from team mate Matt Neal in round 20 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship by 3 points. Meanwhile Mat Jackson, who led the series coming into this weekend, had another nightmare race after he ran wide exiting the chicane, ripping off the front of his car and damaging his radiator in the process, which was caused by a wheel failure.
After winning the first race of the day Tom Chilton led away and controlled the opening half of the race which took part pretty much without any drama. Alex MacDowall once again found the gravel on lap 2, dropping him again to the back of the field. His mistake and Jackson’s off on lap 8, just after setting fastest lap, were the only incidents to note during the first 10 laps of the race.
Then on lap 11 the safety car had to be deployed when Martin Byford in the AmD Miltek Golf went off at the final hairpin crashing backwards into the barriers; perhaps as a result of contact with another competitor which was unseen by the camera’s.
The safety car went in on lap 14 and straight away Jeff Smith for Pirtek Racing spun through Duffers dip after contact with Rob Austin, Smith continued after his spin while Austin retired at the end of the lap.
By lap 16 the top 6 were nose to tail with Chilton coming under huge pressure from Neal. After holding the two Honda’s off for a number of laps Chilton eventually succumbed to the inevitable on lap 20 when he slid sideways at Clark’s allowing Neal, Shedden and Frank Wrathall all through going around the Hairpin.
Then just a lap later Shedden was able to take the lead when Neal made the tiniest of mistakes exiting the Chicane and Shedden was able to get a small overlap into Clark’s but this was enough to take the lead. Neal came back but Shedden was able to defend on the run up to the Hairpin and from then on he pulled away and Neal had his mirrors full of the orange Avensis belonging to Wrathall.
Chilton was just able to hold off Rob Collard for 4th as Collard continued to get a better run off of the Hairpin however Chilton with his turbo power was always just able to pull away and just won the drag race to the line. Tom Boardman took a good 6th with Jason Plato in 7th after he took James Nash on the last lap. This proved to be a crucial pass for the reigning champion after Scottish driver Marino Franchitti, who competes in the American Le Mans series but is competing as guest driver in the Ginetta Supercup, drew out number 7 on the reverse grid. Andrew Jordan was 9th with WSR second driver Nick Foster taking the final point in 10th.
However there was no doubt who the happiest man was after taking home victory and the championship lead and Shedden said after his 3rd victory at the Scottish circuit, “Absolutely Brilliant! It’s amazing in front of my home crowd they just get so into it and you can sense that from the car. Matt made a tiny mistake exiting the Chicane and I got a bit of an overlap about two thirds of a car length and I got past. I had to be patient early on cause it’s so tight here and there is a big risk of contact so it had to be clean and I just bided my time. It’s going to be difficult in race 3 with the weight as the cars are so evenly matched here and I might need some carnage for a podium in race 3.”
Absolutely Brilliant! It’s amazing in front of my home crowd they just get so into it and you can sense that from the car.
Neal was pleased with a great result for the team and admitted that the better man won and said, “Better man won, homeboy comes good! He had the legs on me and then Wrathall was showing me his nose a fair bit but I wanted to give the team a 1-2.”
Although he got on the podium at Snetterton as Independent winner this was the first time a new generation car has made it on the podium outright for a top 3 finish. Understandably Wrathall was delighted, “Absolutely made up for the team. It’s incredible to be on the podium especially after where we were at the start of the season where we have come on so much since Brands Hatch .All the hard work and effort we have put in and it’s now showing.”
So with Plato on pole for race 3 can he hold off all those turbo cars? Which Honda driver will lead the championship after the third race of the day? For all these answers be sure to return to Motorsport.com for full details following the third race of the day.