Pole positions are like busses for Shedden. He had taken his first top spot for two seasons at Snetterton, and he repeated it after a storm-interrupted 30-minute session at Rockingham. He was fast before the stoppage and even faster after it to line up ahead of Mat Jackson’s Focus and the impressive Josh Cook in the MG.
At the other end of the grid, there were the three BMW 125i M Sports of Goff (25th), Collard (26th) and points leader Tordoff. All three had suffered with water in the electrics during the sodden session, and none could set a representative lap time because of that.
It was time for Honda’s Matt Neal, second in the points, to ram home any advantage he could eek from the event ahead. He would start on the fourth row.
In the end, the race was all about Shedden, who dominated to such an extent that he vaulted into third in the points after a trouble-free 18 laps.
The Honda man was made to work hard over the opening two corners as Mat Jackson got a better launch and ran sideby-side with Shedden through Turn One and down to the Deane Hairpin. Shedden reached the apex first, and he was gone.
“There was a lot of pressure from Mat at the start, but once I had fended him off, he had his wing mirrors full on Subarus so I was able to get clear,” said Shedden.
Even an early safety car could not put Shedden off his stride. Indeed, he timed the restart to perfection and was 0.7s clear when racing resumed for good on lap four.
“I could see that the Porsche safety car was gone and no one was bunching up behind me – I didn’t need a second invitation!” he said. “I was able to back it off over the final laps because I know that tyres are an issue here and I was just being careful. I avoided the kerbs and just brought it home.”
He was 2.5s to the good as he took the chequered flag, and that had been helped by another epic defensive job by Jackson to hold off the Team BMR Subaru Levorg GTS of Jason Plato and Colin Turkington. The three ran in line astern throughout the event, with Jackson under huge pressure every lap.
“We all had such equal straight-line performance,” said Jackson. “It was a great race. The Subaru was strong through the corners and they had great traction out of the slower bits, so that was giving me some cause for concern, so I was having to defend hard. The car was moving about all over the place because I was on the limit.”
Third-placed Plato and Turkington had both usurped third-placed qualifier Cook’s MG away from the line. From then on, Plato was in the invidious position of having to attack for second while looking to his mirrors to defend his third from Turkington behind.
“I was compromised a couple of times when I was having a look at Mat, and I had to be aware of Colin, who was able to gain when I did that,” said Plato. “I knew he wouldn’t do anything silly though, and I am pleased with third.”
Turkington took the flag in fourth, but was handed a time penalty for an incident with Cook along the way. It handed Cook fourth, with Turkington fifth.
Ashley Sutton (MG) was sixth. Andrew Jordans’ Ford had benefited from scrapes ahead to climb from 14th on the grid to seventh, ahead of Neal and returnee Dave Newsham in the Power Maxed Chevrolet.
But perhaps the performance of the race came from the troubled Tordoff. He was in a fully functioning car for the races and wasted no time in slicing through the backmarkers in an attempt to limit the damage that this race would undoubtedly do to his points lead. He made up seven spots on the opening lap, and picked them off one-by-one to make it in to the top 15 by 10 laps. Eventually, he landed 10th place.
“To finish 10th was remarkable – it was a different car and it was great,” he said. “And now it means I have no weight either for the second race. It was a proper damage limitation.”
Collard, on the harder option of Dunlop rubber because he wanted to get all of his ballast and tyre pain out of the way early, was in Tordoff ’s wheeltracks until the Dunlops faded and he dropped to 14th.
Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R Motorbase Performance Ford Focus Team BMR Subaru Levorg Triple Eight Racing MG6 Team BMR Subaru Levorg Triple Eight Racing MG6 Motorbase Performance Ford Focus Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze WSR BMW 125i M Sport