Gordon Shedden had to stage a dramatic fight through the field in the closing race to secure the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
The Scot’s sole title rival at the end of Sunday’s schedule, Jason Plato, moved into the lead at the start of the final race of the day, and the Volkswagen CC driver also posted the fastest lap, meaning that Shedden needed to finish fifth or better to secure the title. The Honda Civic Type R driver didn’t have success ballast to worry about, but he did start the closing race in 19th position on the grid, so he had to make the most of any weight or performance advantage to claim the crown.
In the end Shedden’s team-mate, Matt Neal, deployed a clever move by attacking Jack Goff in the closing stages; that, in turn, allowed Adam Morgan and Mat Jackson to get involved, and brought the recovering Shedden into play as well. Neal eventually backed off enough to allow Shedden some breathing space - and in the meantime Sam Tordoff took fastest lap off Plato, granting the 2012 title winner a slightly more comfortable run to a second championship success.
The opening race of the day saw Jackson converting a pole position into a race win for the third meeting in succession. The Motorbase Ford Focus driver had to cope with a couple of safety car periods, but he always had Aron Smith’s Team BMR Volkswagen CC under control and he eventually took the victory by just under a second.
Smith claimed second place, ahead of Morgan’s Mercedes A Class - and the first of the title protagonists, Colin Turkington. The Northern Irishman was almost four seconds off the top spot at the finish, but he at least had the satisfaction of beating BMR team-mate Plato by almost two seconds - and with Shedden only managing sixth, the two VW CC drivers inched closer in the title race.
The second outing of the day closed things up further in the points standings, as Shedden failed to score any points at all. Jackson was triumphant again, coping superbly with 75kg of success ballast on his Focus to beat Tom Ingram’s Toyota and Morgan’s A Class after the three circulated closely from start to finish.
Shedden’s race started badly, as he dropped from 13th on the grid to 16th after a cautious opening lap - and while a safety car period offered him the chance to make up more places, locking brakes - the legacy of some early contact - meant that he actually slid further down the order, eventually finishing 19th.
His sole comfort was that while Plato - who benefited from the BMR team telling Aron Smith to move out of his way at mid-distance - claimed sixth to move in on his points lead with a single race remaining, the other CC of Turkington exited the title race altogether. A puncture on the last lap ruined the 2014 champion’s chances.