Honda Racing's Gordon Shedden finally got his first victory of the season in round 13 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, but only after one of the most exciting and closest BTCC finishes in history with Rob Collard. Shedden took...
Honda Racing's Gordon Shedden finally got his first victory of the season in round 13 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, but only after one of the most exciting and closest BTCC finishes in history with Rob Collard.
Shedden took the lead from the start overtaking pole sitter Tom Chilton before the first corner and instantly built up a big lead. Collard got past Chilton on lap eight of the race and instantly set about shrinking Shedden's 3-second lead.
Helped by his rear wheel drive BMW looking after their tyres better Collard was right on the Honda's tail entering the last lap. After a couple of nudges around the last lap Collard's best chance was exiting the final hairpin.
Defending the inside Collard decided to try and take the outside coming out of the Hairpin, but Shedden pushed the BMW on to the grass and incredibly won by just 0.035 of a second.
Shedden was clearly delighted to take his first victory of the year. "I've been knocking on the door so far this season and shown good pace particularly in Qualifying and I am delighted to win at last," he said.
Speaking about the dash to the line Shedden joked, "I gave him half a BMW's car width which is plenty in touring cars!"
Collard thought Shedden was a little bit too tough in defending his position and said, "It was very close, I got a good run on Shedden coming out of the last corner and he was perhaps a little unfair. Maybe the judges want to have a look at that."
Although when ITV commentator Steve Ryder asked the question to Collard, "Surely you would have done the same?" Collard just smiled and said, "I couldn't possibly comment on that"
Crucially in the overall points Jason Plato took third just ahead of Matt Neal to close the gap to just 6-points. It could have been worse for Neal after a poor start had dropped him to 8th.
Plato and Neal haven't always seen eye to eye on the circuit but Plato said after the race that Neal and himself are "getting on famously at the moment."
Although Neal spent most of the race behind the Chevrolet. Plato had confidence racing with Neal following him. "I didn't thing Neal was going to take any naughty lines, as I'm sure Neal is aware that there is along way to go and its all shaping up for something," he said.
Both Plato and Neal benefited from both Fords suffering with mechanical issues. Tom Onslow-Cole was running 4th before disappearing down the field, out of camera; all the way down to 8th whilst team mate Chilton wouldn't even finish. After losing third place, Chilton seemed to lose all pace, dropping places and eventually coming into the pits placed outside the top 10 although he did come out for the final lap of the race.
Paul O'Neill put in a great performance to claim 6th after his gearbox problems from Oulton Park. Since then he has had the gearbox changed on the sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra and spent most of the race weaving behind the Civic of Neal.
Next up was the pair of Triple 8 Vectras of James Nash and the impressive Daniel Lloyd in his first ever BTCC race.
Both benefited from the other's misfortunes and the normal touring car contact. Alex MacDowall had been running a fine 4th until running wide, which allowed Plato and Neal past before being rubbed down by O'Neill coming out of the final corner. He ran wide through the gravel at the first corner pushing him yet further down the field before eventually finishing outside the points.
Nash and Lloyd also took advantage when Mat Jackson got spun around by Andrew Jordan at the first corner. The pair continued and had further contact at the last corner on the last lap when Jackson got revenge, badgering his way back past Jordan to take ninth.
Other drivers to face problems were local boy Arthur Forster, who finished three laps down after spinning on lap 3 ending up in the crop fields, and Dave Pinkney who suffered engine trouble on lap 4 with his NGTC Turbo charged Vauxhall Vectra.
Lea Woods finished four laps down and Shaun Hollamby also had to be pushed back to the pits in his AmD VW Golf.
After the excitement of the first race the next two promise much of the same. With the starting position of race 2 being determined by the finishing places of race 1, fireworks are guaranteed particularly with Plato and Neal once again starting next to each other.
So be sure to return in a couple of hours to Motorsport.com for a full report of the second race of the day.