Honda Civic Tourer driver Gordon Shedden took an estate-bodied car to victory for the first time in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park today.
Shedden won the third race of the day in the still-developing machine, but the pace of the factory MG 6s was the other major talking point of the weekend, with team-mates Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff grabbing a win apiece.
On Saturday Plato obliterated the East Midland circuit’s BTCC lap record on his way to his first pole position of the season. Shedden joined him on the front row in the works Honda Civic Tourer – the first time an estate-bodied car had qualified on the front row in the domestic tin-top series.
Plato made a good start and seized the lead into the first corner, while the fast-starting BMW 125i M Sport of Colin Turkington slotted into second. He didn’t hold that position for long, however, struggling for pace in the cold, damp conditions and ceding positions to the MG of Sam Tordoff and Shedden, who had been slow away.
Turkington began to find front-running pace by mid-distance as he got back by Shedden, but his eBay Motors team-mate Rob Collard was on a charge. From 13th on the grid, Collard moved up to fifth position by lap seven by deposing Shedden and then latched onto the podium battle between Turkington and reigning champion Andrew Jordan.
Honda Civic driver Jordan sliced past Turkington at Redgate for third and Collard also slipped ahead of the Ulsterman shortly after. Shedden retained sixth until the end, while former champions Fabrizio Giovanardi (Airwaves Racing Ford Focus) and Matt Neal came home in seventh and eighth in their Ford Focus and Honda Civic Tourer respectively.
With Plato taking a full 45kgs of success ballast aboard his MG for the second race, Tordoff was able to make a brighter start and moved ahead of the pole man into Redgate on the opening lap. Tordoff, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday, kept cool through several safety car periods to lead home Plato and collect his second BTCC race win.
Behind the dominant MGs, Jordan and Shedden scrapped over the final spot on the podium. The battle went Shedden’s way when Jordan ran wide at the exit of Old Hairpin and lost ground. Neal almost capitalised on Jordan’s mistake, but had to be content with fifth ahead of Turkington.
Drier conditions prevailed for race three, and Turkington started from pole position after the top six positions from race two were reversed for the grid.
The safety car made an early appearance as a wild moment from champion Jordan at Redgate resulted in several separate incidents at the tail-end of the field.
As the race resumed Plato pulled a great move into Redgate to slice inside Neal for second place. But Plato was unable to pull clear in his heavily ballasted MG, and had to mount a stout defence from Neal, Mat Jackson, Tordoff and Shedden.
Tordoff slowed as he struggled with excessive wear on the soft tyre compound, and Neal and Shedden broke clear of Jackson in third and fourth. Shedden cut ahead of Plato at the chicane on lap 12, while two laps later Neal and Jackson also demoted the MG man, who was also enduring tyre issues.
Up at the front, Shedden charged after Turkington, chewing huge lumps out of the BMW’s comfortable lead and latching onto his tail at the start of the final lap.
Turkington defended strongly, but Shedden swept to the outside line into the chicane for the final lap. As they tried to outbrake each other, neither man could make the corner on the track, both bumping across the gravel trap with Shedden emerging just ahead and winning the frantic dash to the chequered flag.