SHEDDEN, ONSLOW-COLE & NEAL WIN AT DONINGTON TO SET UP FOUR-WAY TITLE-DECIDER WITH PLATO Gordon Shedden, Tom Onslow-Cole and Matt Neal were the winners of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Donington Park ...
SHEDDEN, ONSLOW-COLE & NEAL WIN AT DONINGTON TO SET UP FOUR-WAY TITLE-DECIDER WITH PLATO
Gordon Shedden, Tom Onslow-Cole and Matt Neal were the winners of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire to set up a nail-biting, four-way title-decider against Jason Plato on Finals Day at Brands Hatch, Kent on Sunday 10 October.
Silverline Chevrolet driver Plato crashed out of today's first race but later secured a pair of vital third place finishes in races two and three to maintain his lead in the standings - the first of those achieved with a stunning comeback drive from the rear of the grid.
Honda Racing Team's Neal was fifth in race one and eighth in race two before capping his day with a victory in race three ahead of WSR BMW driver Robert Collard. Team-mate Shedden (pictured leading) won race one, was second in race two and added a sixth in race three to take the biggest points haul of the day. Onslow-Cole's results read eighth, first and ninth. The only other driver to make it onto the podium was Team Aon's Tom Chilton - second behind Shedden in race one.
The results mean that an unprecedented number of four drivers - the previous record was three - will fight it out for the BTCC title in the season's final three races around Brands Hatch's tight and often controversial Indy circuit in three weeks time. Plato will arrive there with a 17-point advantage over Neal with Shedden a further four points adrift. Onslow-Cole is three more behind - in total with 24 to make up on Plato with a maximum of 52 to be won on the day.
Oxford racer Plato, who won his only BTCC title to date at Brands in 2001, said: "After race one it wasn't looking too rosy but my team worked miracles to repair the car in such a short timeframe and third place in race two was all down to them. I knew this would be a great circuit for the Cruze and while I'm happy with a 17-point lead it should have been 25 or so. But I'd rather have a handy cushion than be going to Brands Hatch playing catch-up. We just need to do our homework between now and then, leave no stone unturned and take nothing for granted."
Worcestershire's Neal, who lifted the first of his two titles at Brands in 2005, added: "Jason holds all the aces but he'll have two Hondas to worry about - there are no team orders between Gordon and I and we'll be coming at Jason from all directions. But he's been there before and so have I so we both know the score. The Honda's big strength is its handling and Brands Indy is a twisty circuit so it's game on."
For both Scottish ace Shedden and Onslow-Cole, it will be the first time either has gone into Finals Day fighting for the coveted BTCC Champion's trophy. Shedden, from Dalgety Bay, Fife commented: "It's all to play for and Jason will have two Hondas to worry about. Then again, I think all three cars, the Chevrolet, the Honda and the Ford will be very evenly-matched there. I'm relaxed about it, I've nothing to lose so it'll be maximum attack."
And said New Malden-based Onslow-Cole: "I'm the absolute outsider so have no other option but to go for it. We had some strong results with the Focus on the Brands GP circuit earlier this year but the Indy circuit is a very different animal. Let's just see what happens."
Meanwhile, the battle for the Independent Drivers Trophy will also come down to four drivers - Onslow-Cole, Airwaves BMW's Steven Kane, Chilton and Kane's team-mate Mat Jackson. Thirty-five points cover them with a maximum 45 available at Brands Hatch. The HiQ Teams Championship is now a straight fight between Honda Racing Team and Team Aon, the former ahead by 41 points with 81 available in the season finale. Honda, however, has provisionally secured the Manufacturer honours for 2010 thanks to Neal's and Shedden's efforts this season. In the Independent Teams Trophy, Team Aon leads the only other outfit still in the running, Airwaves BMW, by 25 points with a maximum of 45 up for grabs at Brands - notably, the latter's home circuit.
Elsewhere, two drivers were punished for on-track incidents at Donington. These were: Race 1: Jason Plato - officially reprimanded and 2 penalty points for an incident with Matt Neal; Race 2: Andy Neate - officially reprimanded and 2 penalty points for an incident with David Pinkney.