Gordon Shedden became the first person to overcome a lead going into the final round since 2007
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
After three fantastic races, Gordon Shedden was crowned the 2016 British Touring Car Champion, beating WSR’s Sam Tordoff by two points. The Scott, who was 11 points behind Tordoff at the start of the day, becomes the first driver to win back to back titles since Fabrizio Giovanardi in 2007 and 2008.
However Saturday saw another challenger take pole as Colin Turkington achieved the fastest time in a crazy session, ensuring he achieved the most pole positions of 2016 with three. He was joined on the front row by Tom Ingram, however following post qualifying checks it Ingram’s car was deemed too low and subsequently failed the ride height test. This meant that all his times were deleted and he was sent to the rear of the field. This promoted Rob Austin to second in his Toyota with Jason Plato in third and Hunter Abbott an impressive fourth. Josh Cook and Jack Goff were fifth and sixth. Gordon Shedden, Adam Morgan, Aiden Moffat and Sam Tordoff rounded out the top 10.
Race 1 and it was a great start by Turkington however Austin gave it his best shot to take the lead however Turkington was able to fend off the Handy Motorsport driver’s advances and quickly developed a lead. At the end of lap 1 the order was Turkington followed by Austin, Plato, Cook fourth with Goff fifth, Shedden sixth as Morgan, Moffat, Abbot and Collard rounded out the top 10.
Lap 2 and the action continued as Matt Neal, Rob Collard and Hunter Abbott ran three abreast going into Druids. However three into one did not work and Abbott found himself spun by Neal with the luckless Jordan unable to avoid the stricken Chevrolet. This incident bought out the safety car as Jordan’s Ford was recovered.
Lap 4 and the green flags were out allowing Turkington to redevelop his lead. However Collard found himself falling down the order, as Neal climbed it. Neal eventually climbed to seventh, overtaking Moffat on lap 7.
However it was Turkington who took the first win of the day by 4.5 seconds ahead of Rob Austin who defended well throughout the race. The final podium place went to Josh Cook who overtook Plato at the final turn. This result meant that Plato was out the running for the 2016 title. Gordon Shedden finished a quiet fifth ahead of Morgan, Neal and Moffat with Ashley Sutton and Sam Tordoff rounding out the top 10.
The result meant that Shedden cut the gap to six points to Tordoff with Neal ten points and Turkington 20 points behind going into the second race of the day.
Race 2 and Turkington started from pole with Austin alongside. As the lights went out Turkington got another good start and was able to take the lead convincingly by Paddock Hill Bend. However it was Plato who had the best start out of the front runners, who immediately jumped Cook’s MG and even had his eye on second as he and Austin approached turn 1.
Once again Turkington quickly developed a lead with Austin defending well ahead of Plato and Cook, although the fastest car on the circuit was Matt Neal. The two Hondas were running fifth and sixth with Shedden leading Neal in sixth. However Neal’s fine form did not last long as on lap 4, Neal suffered a throttle failure as he exited Paddock Hill Bend. Although he got the car working again on the exit of Druids, he made contact with Sutton’s MG pitching him into the barriers and into a violent spin. Having from retired the race his championship aspirations were essentially ended.
With Neal’s car stranded in the middle of the track, the safety car was deployed and by lap 7 racing had resumed. Shedden immediately made his way past Cook for fourth however Tordoff did not make his own move stick.
One lap later and Plato was also on the move as he made his way past Austin for second, setting his sights on teammate Turkington, with seemingly no team orders in play between the duo. Shedden also made his way past Austin for third down Pilgrims Drop.
With the Subaru duo fighting for the lead, Shedden was able to close and attempted to pass for second, though Plato was able to hold on. Behind the lead trio, Austin slowed with two laps to go and dropped to the rear of the pack, ensuring Cook was up to fourth and Tordoff fifth. This is how the top five remained to the flag ensuring there would be a three way fight for the championship going into the final race of the season.
It meant that Tordoff lead the championship by two points with Turkington a further eight points behind.
Behind the top five, Aiden Moffat finished sixth ahead of Mat Jackson, Adam Morgan in eighth with Ingram and Collard rounding out the top 10. Following his crash in race 2, Matt Neal was not able to take the start for the third race, after suffering concussion.
Race 3 and time for the reverse grid race, a crucial draw with the top 3 all waiting to see their positions. Number 7 was drawn out the bowel ensuring Mat Jackson was on pole with Moffat alongside the Motorbase driver.
As the lights went out yet again the pole man got the best start as Jackson quickly found himself well in the lead ahead of Moffat. As the first lap ended the order saw Jackson continue to lead ahead of Moffat, Tordoff, Cook, Shedden and Morgan. Behind the top six saw Plato, Ingram, Collard and Turkington round out the top 10. Turkington began to lose places as the race went on, ending his hopes of winning a miraculous third title.
Lap 4 and Shedden was on the move as he overtook Cook’s MG for fourth as the safety car was deployed following Warren Scott’s retirement from the race. Once the safety car returned on lap 7 Shedden was all over Tordoff’s WSR BMW and made his move at Clearways on the first green flag lap. This left the duo level on points in the standings however Shedden was the champion elect due to his amount of wins.
Shedden quickly closed in on Moffat however he was unable to improve on his third place. However Tordoff found himself fallen down the order as on lap 13 Adam Morgan made his way past, creating a 2 point gap between the lead duo. The safety car was deployed once more on lap 15 to recover Dan Welch’s Proton.
Shedden found himself under immense pressure from Morgan however the Scott was able to hang onto his podium place and in doing so won the 2016 BTCC title. However it was Mat Jackson who took the win, his fifth of the season which promoted him to third in the final standings with Moffat a career best second. Behind Shedden and Morgan saw Torodff fifth, Ingram sixth and Josh Cook seventh. Jake Hill, Collard and Plato completed to the top 10.
It was a fantastic final weekend to cap off an incredible 2016 season, one which will last long in the memory of many fans, not least for three time champion Gordon Shedden.