Matt Neal and first-time winners Aron Smith and Frank Wrathall shared the victories in today’s final three races of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season on a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. But it is Gordon Shedden who tonight leaves the world-famous Kent venue as the newly crowned 2012 Champion. Shedden, from Fife, becomes the first Scottish driver to lift the most coveted prize in UK motor sport since his own hero, John Cleland, in 1995…
Tom Onslow-Cole’s eBay Motors BMW had taken pole position in Saturday’s dry qualifying session. But in today’s first race he could only finish third behind Neal and Jordan in their Civics. Shedden took fifth and closest challenger at that point, MG KX Momentum Racing’s Jason Plato, eighth.
In race two Dubliner Smith was in unstoppable form en route to his maiden BTCC race win in Redstone Racing’s Ford Focus, but second place and the fastest lap for Shedden was enough for him to put the title out of his rivals’ reach. Out-going Champion Neal was third to move back up to second in the standings past Plato who finished in fifth.
Similarly, the day’s third race, the last of the season, was also won in emphatic style by Wrathall whose victory was the first for himself, his small family-run Dynojet team and Toyota’s Avensis model. Taking second, third and fourth in a spectacular line-abreast, Honda formation finish were Neal, Shedden and Jordan.
For Shedden, being crowned BTCC Champion is a boyhood dream come true. The 33-year-old from Dalgety Bay commented: “All I ever wanted as a kid was to race touring cars – it was never about F1 – and it was John Cleland who was my hero when I used to go and catch a glimpse of the BTCC at my home track of Knockhill in Fife. I never thought I’d ever get the chance to race them, though, let alone win a race and now I’m the Champion. It is mind blowing… what a season, not just for myself but everyone at Honda. I’d also like to thank everyone who was cheering for me back home in Scotland today – including in the bar at Knockhill! I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with them.”
Shedden’s Worcestershire team-mate Neal, who has finished second in the standings, said: “Gordon has driven superbly all season, has amassed the most wins and massively deserves to be Champion. As a team we all pull together at Honda and the Civic has simply been the class of the field all year. A clean sweep of titles is the perfect result.”
Oxford’s Plato, third in the final table, added: “I’m here to win so I'm obviously disappointed it’s not gone our way but, that said, the MG KX Momentum Racing team are still winners – we have far exceeded our expectations in MG’s first season back in the BTCC and will return much stronger for 2013.”
Meanwhile Lichfield’s Jordan was ecstatic. He beamed: “For Pirtek Racing to win both the Independent drivers’ and teams’ titles is terrific. We are growing all the time as a team of people and have had to beat rival teams and drivers of real quality.”
Similarly delighted were both Smith and Wrathall. Smith said: “Off the back of my first podium result at Silverstone two weeks ago, to now end my debut season in the BTCC with a first win is unbelievable.” And added Wrathall: “It’s a fantastic achievement for a small team like ours in only its second season at this level – we’d already had seconds and thirds and a pole position but a win means we’ve now ticked all the boxes.”
Elsewhere, race officials today punished one driver for an on-track indiscretion. Race 1: Andy Neate, official reprimand, fined £500 and three penalty points on his competition licence for an incident involving Frank Wrathall.