Smith Wins As Shedden Becomes Champion
Submitted on October 21st 2012 16:08 by Chris Ashby.
Gordon Shedden has become the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion after finishing second in the penultimate round of the championship at the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Shedden has become the first Scotsman to claim the title since John Cleland in 1995. The accumulation of seven years BTCC experience has led to this moment and his first crown in the leading championship of British motorsport. It now means Shedden can now drive without pressure for the final round of the season.
Andrew Jordan also claimed his first championship by claiming the Independents crown after finishing in fourth position.
Redstone Racing driver Aron Smith crossed the line to win his first race in the championship which was blitzed with incidents. Outgoing champion Matt Neal completed the podium by finishing third in his Honda Yuasa Civic.
Neal was jumped off the line by the fast starting BMW of Tom Onslow-Cole and Ford Focus of Smith as they all tried to squeeze into Paddock Hill Bend. However at Druids it was Onslow-Cole’s team mate Rob Collard along with the Rob Austin Racing Audi of Will Bratt who left the race deploying the safety car. Jason Plato had pushed Shedden into the back of Collard causing the BMW driver to collect Bratt and extinguishing his hopes of being crowned the Independents champion.
After a brief safety car period Smith dived down the inside of Onslow-Cole to take the lead whilst further back an optimistic Dave Newsham ran round the outside of Plato at Druids only to leave the track backwards hitting the wall hard running down to Graham Hill Bend. This again brought out the safety car for a lap before racing resumed.
Shedden, with weight out of his car, pushed hard and soon past team mate Neal for third place before setting off after the top two. Second place man Onslow-Cole out braked himself at Surtees allowing ‘Flash’ to move up to second with everyone else following. Independents champion Jordan showed he was racing for himself by applying extensive pressure on Neal however couldn’t find a way past.
As the laps ticked by the third championship contender Plato looked to latch onto the back on the Honda’s however the pace was not in the MG6. A massive incident occurred in the final laps as Andy Neate caught the Toyota Avensis of Adam Morgan sending the 2011 Ginetta champion crashing into the wall hard and collecting Aaron Williamson who in turn made contact with Onslow-Cole.
After that the tension started to build with the Honda Yuasa team huddled around the TV waiting for their man to cross the line and become the new champion. Smith drove a mature and controlled race and always looked as if he could respond when needed. Shedden followed Smith over the line to claim his maiden championship with team mate Neal in third.
Jordan celebrated his Independents victory with fourth place and Plato finished fifth. Charging from the back of the grid to finish sixth was Frank Wrathall with Mat Jackson in tow in seventh. Rounding out the top ten was Jeff Smith, Lea Wood and Rob Austin.
So with the championship sewn up Shedden can now race for fun in race three whereas the main battle to finish second is going to be watched with a keen eye as Neal and Plato are separated by just two points. Interviews with the champion will follow.
The reverse grid draw plucked number seven out of the bowl putting Mat Jackson on pole position for the final race of the 2012 season. Round 30 will begin at 16:50 on ITV4 or www.itv.com/btcc
PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Hobley