The title race is almost over. So just how does our BTCC Correspondent feel about another Shedden championship?
Following the latest rounds of the championship at Silverstone, you would suggest that it’s now Gordon Shedden’s title to lose. He has secured a 23 point gap at the top of the standings with only a possible 67 points remaining. The likelihood of Jason Plato, or even Colin Turkington, overturning that gap seems far-fetched.
Plato or Turkington, or even more unrealistically Matt Neal or Andrew Jordan, could complete that extremely rare situation of winning all three races. But, it would seem a near impossibility that Shedden would be so far back that his 23 point gap would be eradicated and then overturned. Shedden, of course, will be nervous and Plato and Turkington will be hopeful but it seems an unlikely event that we’ll see a Team BMR driver crowned as champion.
Whilst we talk of who will be champion, let’s not forget there are other drivers out there competing for victories. Matt Jackson has taken the championship by storm since he returned at Snetterton and he will be hoping his form will continue after securing another win at Silverstone this time out. So, even if Plato and Turkington wanted to secure three, unlikely, victories they obviously won’t just be facing competition from each other.
As previously mentioned, the power of Motorbase’s Ford Focus is phenomenal and it was put to good use yet again on the long straights of Silverstone. Jackson took pole for the second meeting running and secured a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race. Jordan took 2nd after a good move on Shedden on the second lap. Shedden held onto 3rd throughout the race, despite seemingly hold up many cars, especially in the early stages. The opening race felt fairly processional with not many overtakes, although late on, as some of the soft tyres ran out of grip, there was slight excitement. However, probably the biggest talking point was a puncture for Plato on the final lap. It hadn’t been the best of races for Plato, but he was in the lower reaches of the top 10. At that moment, it felt like the championship momentum swung firmly towards Shedden.
The second race of the day brought more punctures, this time for Jackson and Jordan, when both were well-placed in high points scoring positions. Andy Priaulx secured his second victory of the season after a patient race and became the first BMW driver to secure victory at Silverstone for many years. Priaulx was put under good pressure from Jack Goff, Aron Smith and Jordan at the front, whilst once again there were good battles lower down the pack, most notably involving Turkington, Rob Collard and James Cole.
The reverse grid draw saw the full complement of ten drivers switched as Cole was drawn on pole. However, he seemed to bog down at the start allowing Collard through and then Turkington. At the end of the second lap, Turkington made the most of his tyre advantage over Collard and made a great move stick on him for the lead. Turkington never looked back and went on to secure a much-needed victory for his faint title hopes. However, as Turkington was taking the lead, further back Hunter Abbott was forced into avoiding action from a spinning Dan Welch and he had a heavy collision with the barriers, cue the safety car.
The safety car undoubtedly helped Jackson secure 7th after he started 24th, as once again he demonstrated the performance of the Focus. There was a good battle for the podium positions between teammates as it appeared that Collard held up Sam Tordoff, although when they did swap Tordoff couldn’t make progress either, before relinquishing the position back to Collard. Best of the rest was Plato as he held on to his title hopes by a thread. His 4th place wasn’t particularly helpful considering Shedden finished a spot behind.
And so on to Brands Hatch GP where the champion will be crowned. Shedden is huge favourite and it would be stupid to bet against him. If Shedden isn’t crowned champion, it’ll mean that we’ve witnessed the best set of races we’ve seen in a years. Personally, I’m hoping for the latter.
Championship Standings after Round 27 of 30:
|1. Gordon Shedden||325 points|
|2. Jason Plato||302|
|3. Colin Turkington||293|
|4. Matt Neal||288|
|5. Andrew Jordan||261|
|6. Sam Tordoff||256|
Team BMR RCIB Insurance – Volkswagen CC (Plato, Turkington, Scott, A Smith)
BMR weren’t as good as I, or they thought, they would be at Silverstone. Plato tried his hardest but the puncture in the opening race has wrecked his championship hopes. Turkington kept his alive with a strong victory, a 5th and 8th. Smith also secured a good podium, but Scott was missing due to a nasty injury suffered in practice. 7/10
WSR, Team JCT600 with GardX – BMW 125i M Sport (Collard, Tordoff)
WSR, Team IHG Rewards Club – BMW 125i M Sport (Priaulx)
A decent enough showing from the BMWs on a track that really isn’t suited to them. Plenty of points scored across the board and a few bubbles of champagne. 7/10
Honda Yuasa Racing – Honda Civic Type R (Neal, Shedden)
Shedden will be delighted with his gap at the top of the standings after 3 top 5 finishes. Despite good top 10 finishes for Neal, he’s fallen behind Turkington in the standings and he’ll be looking to take 3rd at Brands. 8/10
MG 888 Racing – MG6 GT (Goff, Jordan)
Goff will be pleased with a 2nd in the 2nd race, but that was all the points he managed. After a good opening race and 2nd for himself, Jordan’s puncture ruined his second half of the Sunday. 6.5/10
Exocet AlcoSense – Audi A4 (Abbott, Austin)
A bad weekend for Abbott and his car is terminally damaged following his collision with the barriers. Austin picked up a couple of points for 11th, but that was as good as it got. 4/10
Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST (Cole, Jackson)
The man in-form Jackson took another victory and would probably have had another podium if it hadn’t been for a puncture. Recovered well in the last race for 7th. James Cole finally showed that his Focus has the same amount of power as Jackson and he had a good weekend too scoring points in 9th and 10th. 8.5/10
Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic (Depper, J Smith)
13th, 14th and 15th for Depper, a couple of 16ths for Smith. 5/10
Welch Motorsport – Proton Persona (Welch)
A couple of 18ths for Welch before his spin sent him out in the final race. 4/10
Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing – Infiniti Q50 (Palmer)
Time to pack up and come back next season. More races running around at the back. 2/10
WIX Racing – Mercedes-Benz A-Class (Morgan)
Three quiet races for Morgan, but three points scoring positions. 6/10
Laser Tools Racing – Mercedes-Benz A-Class (Moffat)
Got better as the day went on and finished 10th in the final race. 5/10
Handy Motorsport – Toyota Avensis (Belcher)
Simon Belcher returned to racing and was as ‘good’ as before. 3/10 [Harsh! – Ed]
Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis (Ingram)
A quiet weekend for Ingram, but 3 points scoring finishes. 6.5/10
Team HARD. RCIB Insurance Racing – Toyota Avensis (Gilham)
After a big smash in the final race at Rockingham, Gallagher’s no longer in the car as it was no longer financially viable. Tony Gilham replaced him and secured a point in his first races for unbelievably three years and looked much more competitive. 5/10
Houseman Racing – Toyota Avensis (Lines)
No points, as usual. 2/10
Dextra Racing – Ford Focus ST (Martin)
Finished all 3 races again. 4/10
Power Maxed Racing – Chevrolet Cruze 4dr (Newsham)
Good qualifying for Newsham and finished a super 4th in the opening race. Unfortunately, a retirement and DNS followed. 6/10
#RacingforHeroes – Chevrolet Cruze 4dr (Cook)
Around the mid-teens for the weekend. Not the best we’ve seen Cook this season. 5/10
AmD Tuning – Ford Focus ST (Bushell)
2 points scoring finishes for Bushell in what proved to be a better than average weekend compared to the norm. 6/10
AmD Tuning – Audi S3 Saloon (Hamilton) Guest racer
Hamilton brushed the wall in the first race and retired, but slowly improved. Seems to be more successful as the tracks go by. 5.5/10