SHEDDEN CHASES DOWN THE BTCC

CHAM­PION ZE­ROES IN ON TI­TLE LEAD

Motor Sport News - - Front Page -

There was con­tro­versy at Sil­ver­stone’s Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship meet­ing but, un­usu­ally for the cat­e­gory, it wasn’t about what hap­pened on-track.

MG lost a 1-2 fin­ish in the open­ing race when Ash Sut­ton and Josh Cook were kicked out for a rear wing in­fringe­ment, and the mat­ter has gone to ap­peal. Their pain was to Tom In­gram’s gain, as the Speed­works Toy­ota Aven­sis man claimed a sec­ond ca­reer win.

There was re­lief for An­drew Jor­dan, who re­turned to form and got things hooked up to win the sec­ond en­counter in his Mo­tor­base Per­for­mance Ford Fo­cus.

And then there was race three. While the oth­ers took a chance to shine in the ear­lier events, the cham­pi­onship play­ers took their time to make an im­pact but brought it home in the end.

It was race three win­ner Gor­don Shedden who was the big­gest mover in the cham­pi­onship ta­ble as he cut his deficit to leader, WSR BMW man Sam Tord­off, to just 11 points. Shedden also over­took his Dy­nam­ics Honda Civic Type-r team-mate Matt Neal in the stand­ings in the process.

Race one

Pole­man Sut­ton was de­ter­mined to make a mark in race one. He had al­ready tasted the cham­pagne once in his maiden sea­son at this level, in the wet at Croft, but he wanted to prove his pace in the dry too.

It looked like he had fluffed it when he got too much wheel­spin and lost the ad­van­tage to fel­low front-row starter In­gram on the run to Copse as the lights went out. Aven­sis driver In­gram was de­lighted with his get­away. “I don’t know where that start came from,” he re­ported.

In­gram was clear at the apex of the right han­der, while third-placed starter, MG’S Cook, was an­other to lose out. He was jumped by Jor­dan’s Fo­cus on the run to the open­ing turn. Adam Mor­gan (Cice­ley Rac­ing Mercedes-benz A-class) and Rob Austin (Handy Mo­tor­sport Toy­ota Aven­sis) set off on a race-long duel be­hind.

Sut­ton marked his pace over the be­gin­ning of the 22-lap­per. “Once I had dropped be­hind Tom, I just kept things calm and looked af­ter my tyres. I knew it would come back to me,” said Sut­ton.

In­deed they did. In­gram was un­able to force home any ad­van­tage and Sut­ton tracked his ev­ery move. When the push for the lead came, it was re­warded at the start of lap eight with a move that had be­gun half a mile be­fore.

“Tom ran slightly wide at Luffield and left an Mg-sized gap – I didn’t need to be asked twice,” said Sut­ton. He forced his way in­side the Toy­ota and the pair ran side-by-side through Wood­cote and down to­wards Copse, where Sut­ton made it hap­pen for good.

In­gram’s woe didn’t end there though, as Cook had despatched Jor­dan into Copse and set off af­ter the bat­tling top two, who were hold­ing each other up. By lap 10, he was with them. It took him an­other two tours to make it an MG 1-2, but when it came, In­gram thought it was ugly.

Cook lunged down the in­side into Beck­etts and bashed into the side of the Aven­sis, which was go­ing for the apex. There was more con­tact along the Welling­ton Straight and into Brook­lands too. It was cer­tainly ro­bust. “Sut­ton got me with a good move, I have no prob­lem with that, but I hope that the ste­wards look at the Cook move,” said In­gram. “I will be sur­prised if they don’t.”

The ste­wards didn’t, but the of­fi­cials were al­ready busy. They looked closely at the top two MGS. Mea­sure­ments were taken, and they deemed that there was a prob­lem with the rear-wing tol­er­ance of the sa­loon ma­chines. That meant that the pair were stripped of first and sec­ond places, and In­gram’s anger turned to joy as he was gifted the vic­tory – al­though MG has partly ap­pealed the de­ci­sion ( see Rac­ing News).

Be­hind them, Austin won the fight with the soft-tyred Mor­gan (de­spite a clash off the start) to grab what would be­come third be­hind Jor­dan. Be­hind Mor­gan was the im­pres­sive Jake Hill, who cer­tainly had a test of his race­craft to land fifth place in a huge dog­fight.

He had been on the pace of the works Hon­das of Neal and Shedden, which were run­ning eighth and ninth on the road, be­fore dis­as­ter struck both Civic Type-r driv­ers.

Firstly, Shedden had a front-left Dun­lop de­flate on lap 12 and he was forced to pull in for a re­place­ment, and then Neal’s tyre also de­flated on lap 21 and he was forced out of the fight for points – as a re­sult of mid­field con­tact be­tween Ai­den Mof­fat (Cice­ley Rac­ing Mercedes-benz A-class), Neal and Martin Dep­per (Eurotech Rac­ing Honda Civic Type-r).

In­ves­ti­ga­tions af­ter­wards by Dun­lop pointed to the fact that Shedden’s tyre had gone down af­ter con­tact with kerbs.

Those re­tire­ments, and the ex­clu­sion of MG, meant the fi­nal spots in the top eight went to Aron Smith’s Team BKR VW CC (also ham­pered with soft tryes), Rob Col­lard’s WSR BMW 125i M Sport and Colin Turk­ing­ton’s Team BMR Subaru Levorg.

The dra­mas ahead were a boon for points top­per Tord­off, who was lum­ber­ing around with 75kg of suc­cess bal­last on his BMW. He had only qual­i­fied 17th (al­though he would start 16th as Turk­ing­ton was ban­ished to the back for a pre­vi­ous in­dis­cre­tion).

He fought on the fringes of the top 15 but ben­e­fited from the win­ner’s woe to land 11th and some points – which was more than Shedden and Neal had man­aged.

The only chink of light for the Honda men was that Neal was not clas­si­fied and Shedden had man­aged 23rd. They would start near the back of the grid for race two, but with no bal­last.

The big weight was headed MG’S way, and they had been given a dou­ble whammy. Not only were they stripped of the podium fin­ishes, they had to keep the weight and start from the back…

Race two

The big ques­tion mark sur­round­ing race two was the tyres: who had the softs, which had wilted quite dra­mat­i­cally in the opener, and who hadn’t. With the MGS dis­ap­pear­ing from the front, it meant In­gram and Jor­dan were star­ing at an empty track ahead but, be­hind Rob Austin in third, there were a trio of cars on the more fan­cied medium tyres – Mor­gan, Hill and Aron Smith.

In­gram made an­other strong get­away to lead Jor­dan into Copse, with Mor­gan in Jor­dan’s wheel­tracks, but there was no let up for the leader.

Jor­dan was track­ing his prey’s ev­ery move. “I had learnt a tech­nique to look af­ter the softer tyres when I won the cham­pi­onship in 2013,” said the Ford driver. “I was con­fi­dent I could do a good job with them.”

He cer­tainly did, and he kept the heat on In­gram un­til lap eight, when he lunged for the in­side at Beck­etts and pulled off beau­ti­ful move to gain the lead. That pushed In­gram slightly wide and the fol­low­ing Mor­gan, rev­el­ling in the grip from his Merc, grate­fully ac­cepted sec­ond place.

The top two set off on a great fight, with Jor­dan con­trol­ling the pace beau­ti­fully while Mor­gan was forced to look to his mir­rors to fend off those snap­ping at his heels.

Even a late-race safety car – to clear up de­bris when Jeff Smith’s Eurotech Rac­ing Honda burst its front tyre and scat­tered de­bris all over the Welling­ton Straight – couldn’t budge Jor­dan.

“I was con­trol­ling the race, but the safety car was a con­cern,” he said. “Once you lose the heat from the tyres, they can take a while to re­turn to a good level. But, once the safety car had gone, I bolted. It worked per­fectly.”

Mor­gan agreed: “I just couldn’t keep up with An­drew for the last seven laps. He was fly­ing. I felt our car was a lit­tle bit down on straight-line speed and I could only keep up us­ing the slip­stream, but I am pleased with that re­sult.”

Third for In­gram was sat­is­fac­tory given that he was on the softer tyres too, but he had come un­der a se­ri­ous at­tack from the Subarus of Turk­ing­ton and Ja­son Plato over the lat­ter half of the race. Un­like Jor­dan, he was pleased to see the safety to­wards the end as the hia­tus gave him a

Shedden took an easy race three win Works Honda driver now has de­signs on the ti­tle

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