Gordon Shedden took the British Touring Car Championship title in the final race of the final round of the season. The title came down to a battle between Shedden and Sam Tordoff after eight drivers entered the Brands Hatch GP with a chance at the title.
Shedden, Tordoff, Mat Jackson, Matt Neal, Rob Collard, Andy Jordan, Colin Turkington, and Jason Plato came to Brands Hatch with hopes of the championship. Race after race, the contenders dropped off, until the championship was decided.
Turkington didn’t come to the final round of the championship with much hope, a way off from the championship leader, but pole position for race one had to boost his confidence just a little.
He would have his team mate, Plato, directly behind him, with the next nearest championship contender, Shedden, down in seventh.
It was a good start for both the Subarus, but there was no way Turkington could shake Rob Austin, who started second. The Handy Motorsports driver attempted to come alongside Turkington, but couldn’t find a way past and had to fall back into second.
A little further back, Josh Cook and Jack Goff were running alongside. Cook managed to get ahead but Goff was right on his tail, as Shedden and Aiden Moffat were closing in on the pair of them.
Just as the excitement was beginning to build, the race was paused. Andy Jordan and Hunter Abbott had come together. Abbott was able to keep going, crabbing as he was, but Jordan was stuck on track and the safety car was needed to allow the marshals to clear it.
Turkington bunched the pack up as the race restarted, and Plato got right onto the back of Austin, but he still couldn’t find a way past.
Neal was still trying to make his way up through the field, right on Moffatt’s tail. The Scotsman was just about able to stay ahead, but he was building up a bit of a queue now. Neal’s team mate, Shedden, joined the queue and made quick work of getting past his fellow Honda driver.
Back at the front of the field, Plato was still trying to find his way past Austin. Cook was now catching up with the Subaru, though, and the championship contender was having to look in his rear view mirrors a little more.
Plato almost gave the position to Cook, but slammed the door shut before the MG could get past.
Meanwhile, Cook’s team mate, Ashley Sutton, was the next driver to try and mount and attack on Moffat. The rookie was trying everything to find a way past the Laser Tools driver, his headlights blazing as he came alongside the Mercedes, but Moffat kept the place.
The last lap, and Cook was still trying to find a way past Plato. Cook dived forwards, coming from a way back to take third place for Plato in the dying seconds of the race.
After race one, Turkington, Shedden (who finished fifth), Neal (seventh), Tordoff (tenth), Jackson (eleventh), Collard (twelfth) and Jordan (who retired) were still mathematically in with a shot at the championship.
With the results of race one dictating the grid for race two, it was Turkington on pole once again. The Subaru driver was immediately able to pull away from Austin in second as his team mate overtook Cook once again to take third place back.
Adam Morgan also had trouble on the opening lap, falling down the order to ninth, but he managed to keep going.
The race was neutralised on the end of lap three after Matt Neal found himself in trouble. After setting the fastest lap of the race from sixth position, the Honda driver found himself in trouble as the engine “spluttered”. Things went from bad to worse as he made contact with Ashley Sutton, and he was sent spinning into the tyre wall.
Neal was out of the race and later diagnosed with a light concusion that would take him out of the final race of the weekend too. It was the end of his championship campaign, for this year at least.
When the race eventually restarted, Austin found himself under pressure from Plato and Shedden, who had managed to get past Cook on the restart. It didn’t take long for both drivers to find their way past the Handy Motorsport driver and the pair of them set off to chase after Turkington.
Turkington would probably have been hoping for a little support from his team mate, seeing as Plato was now out of championship contention, but he got no such luck. Plato kept the pressure on his team mate, chasing after him in search of another win, until the call came over the radio for Plato to back off from Turkington.
Thankfully for Turkington, it worked and he was able to take the win ahead of Plato and Shedden.
Jordan put up an amazing recovery drive, eventually finishing inside the points at thirteenth, but it wasn’t enough to keep his championship hopes alive.
Collard would also be dropping out of the title race after finishing tenth, and Jackson’s seventh wasn’t enough to keep him in the battle either.
That meant, going into race thirty of the season, Turkington, Shedden, and Tordoff (who finished fifth) would be championship contenders.
Matt Jackson would start on pole in the reverse grid, with Aiden Moffat alongside him. The best placed championship contender would be Tordoff, starting third, with Shedden directly behind him, whilst Turkington had all the work to do from way back in seventh.
It was a good start for Jackson, who managed to stay ahead of everybody and, though Tordoff tried to challenge Moffat for P2, the championship contender would have to stay third.
Jason Plato was, once again, not making things easy, but this time it wasn’t his team mate’s championship hopes he was putting under pressure. The Subaru driver was right on Shedden’s tail, stopping the Scotsman from attacking Cook, but he couldn’t find a way past, and Plato soon had his own position to worry about.
Morgan was on the charge, quickly relieving Plato of P6, whilst Tom Ingram was relieving Turkington of P8. Not how Turkington wanted to start his race.
Back at the front, Jackson couldn’t shake Moffat, but the Scotsman was in no position to try and challenge for the lead of the race.
Tordoff wasn’t putting much attention into moving forward either, with Josh Cook right on his tail and looking for a way past. Tordoff was forced to defend against Cook, who had Shedden right behind him.
Shedden took the inside line past Cook, but ran wide and couldn’t quite get ahead of him. The two ran side by side and finally, Shedden was able to move up to fourth, right behind his championship rival.
The race was neutralised as Warren Scott found himself in the gravel and the safety car was brought onto the track. The Subaru driver had found contact with Dan Welch, but Welch was able to keep moving.
On the restart, there was little change, everyone reacting well to Jackson’s restart.
Ingram tried to get alongside Morgan but couldn’t quite make the move stick.
The safety car had brought Shedden right behind Tordoff and the West Surrey Racing driver wasn’t able to shake the Honda on the restart. Shedden pulled alongside Tordoff, trying to just get ahead of him and finally, finally, he was able to get ahead of Tordoff.
That would put the pair of them equal on points but, as Shedden had more wins, he would take the title.
Behind them, Morgan had been able to put some distance between himself and Ingram, and had now overtaken Cook, putting him right behind Tordoff as Shedden sped away to catch up with Aiden Moffatt.
It didn’t take Shedden long to catch up with his fellow Scot, trying to find a way past to absolutely cement his championship lead, but Moffat wasn’t going to move aside easily. The Honda driver came desperately close under breaking, but there was no way past, and now Tordoff was catching up with him again.
Tordoff wouldn’t be able to challenge anybody though as Morgan managed to get past the championship contender. That would knock Tordoff down to fifth and he would definitely lose the lead of the championship.
Morgan set about chasing after Shedden, quickly shaking off Morgan but, just as he was close enough to make a move, the race was neutralised again.
This time it was Welch off and in the gravel at pretty much the exact same place Scott had come into trouble earlier in the race. The safety car was sent out and the race was pushed to the maximum of eighteen laps.
Across Brands Hatch, Britain, and everywhere else BTCC has reached, fans watched, holding their breath, as the laps ticked down.
On the end of the seventeenth lap, the safety car returned to the pits and it was a mad dash to the flag. Shedden was clearly feeling the pressure, clipping the kerbs as Morgan swarmed all over the back of him. The Mercedes couldn’t find a way past, though, and Shedden crossed the line in third, taking the championship win for the second year in a row.
Feature image credit: Caroline Rhea