Race Three

Motor Sport News - - Btcc Report: Rockingham -

The story that un­furled across the week­end was the haves and the have-nots, but that was in ref­er­ence to the tyres. As Shed­den had al­luded to, the harder rub­ber was go­ing to be the prob­lem for every­one at some point.

And most driv­ers had left the harder op­tions un­til the end, which gave a chink of light for those on the re­versed grid switch with­out that hand­i­cap – such as Smith on pole, Col­lard in fifth and Shed­den lurk­ing in 10th.

Four pass­ing moves in four laps over the start of the race – in be­tween two safety car in­terup­tions – told its own story. Shed­den flew through the pack, aided by Col­lard be­ing slowed on the open­ing tour with a mis­fire and Neal step­ping aside for him. That helped him in to sec­ond place af­ter only seven laps.

But Smith was not for giv­ing way. Firstly, although Shed­den could close, Smith was faster at the cru­cial points of the track. Go­ing into the Deane hair­pin, he could just stretch out enough of a gap to keep him­self safe.

While the top two du­elled, Turk­ing­ton, from 15th on the grid, was rev­el­ling in his nor­mal Dun­lops. He was al­ready up to third when the third safety car was called for, and that gave Smith the break he needed for glory.

“When Colin was be­hind Shed­den, I thought that would give me the space I needed,” said Smith. “I was push­ing hard, but that took the pres­sure off. It was still tight at the end, but what a great re­sult.”

Shed­den was forced in to real de­fen­sive mode on the last lap when Turk­ing­ton tried hard to look up the in­side go­ing into the Brook Chi­cane, but Shed­den held sway at the fin­ish.

“You never know what is go­ing to hap­pen in race three when you start in the mid­dle of the pack,” said Shed­den. “So to land the re­sult is per­fect. We didn’t think we would be strong this week­end, but we have man­aged to have a re­ally strong run.”

Turk­ing­ton, too, was de­lighted to fin­ish with a podium: “When you con­sider I was go­ing back­wards at 130mph in race two at Turn One, then I will take that. The car was re­ally in the sweet spot.”

Neal han­dled his harder rub­ber man­fully to fend off Jack­son through­out for fourth place while sixth-placed Col­lard’s hopes of a strong re­sult pre-race were de­railed by that lap one drama that set him back.

Col­lard ex­plained: “I got a re­ally good start and I had al­ready over­taken a cou­ple of driv­ers when the mis­fire came as I changed up into fifth. It was there in sixth too, and com­ing out of turn two, I was about 15mph slower than the rest. I got swamped.”

Col­lard man­aged to cure the mis­fire af­ter the open­ing safty car and re­turned to fifth by pass­ing Jack­son, but he was forced to give the po­si­tion back as he had over­taken un­der yel­lows. “It was a very frus­trat­ing race,” he sighed af­ter­wards.

Be­hind Mor­gan in sev­enth was the highly im­pres­sive Jake Hill in the Team Hard Toy­ota from Mof­fat and Plato, who landed a top 10 re­sult de­spite start­ing 27th on the grid.

The sec­ond safety car had been caused af­ter and scrappy mid­field shunt be­tween Sut­ton’s MG and New­sham’s Chevro­let. New­sham was dumped into the gravel and Sut­ton’s hopes of points ru­ined. Also out of the points was Tordoff. With 75kg on and the harder rub­ber, he had the worst of both worlds. He hung on the fringes of the top 10 for as long as he could but that only lasted four laps. He grad­u­ally went back­wards through the or­der un­til he ar­rested the slump at 16th, just out­side the points.

He was happy none­the­less. “Given where we started this week­end, I will take that. We al­ways knew it would be pain in race three, but we have still man­aged to come out of the race meet­ing with five points over Matt Neal in the ti­tle race. We couldn’t have asked for more.”

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