Gordon Shedden is back in the British Touring Car Championship, and he means business.
The three-time title winner was a mainstay of the Honda attack for a decade until he was tempted away in 2018 by a programme on the global stage in the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) with the Audi RS3 Saloon. When that campaign was shelved at the end of 2019, the Flying Scotsman was desperate to get back to the front – and he has come home to do so.
The BTCC was a happy hunting ground for the 42-year-old. He took 48 victories with Team Dynamics in various Honda products between 2006 and his most recent UK foray in 2017. So it’s no surprise that he found himself on Team Dynamics’ shopping list when the winter driver swaps were in full swing, and he will line up on the grid at Thruxton on 9 May back at his spiritual home.
With team patron and BTCC legend Matt Neal taking a sabbatical this term, Shedden will be the de facto team leader. The spotlight will be turned up to its brightest.
“When you race for Team Dynamics, you’re expected to win titles; it’s as simple as that,” says Shedden. “It’s what the team exists for and it’s what you ultimately aim for as a driver. So why shouldn’t that be in my sights? This isn’t just something I do for fun; I’m burning to win the title again.”
Those are fighting words for a man who has been away from UK paddocks for three seasons. Just to remind the fans what they’ve been missing, the Fife-based racer set the fastest lap time during the BTCC’s only collective pre-season test, outpacing the next fastest of the 28 entrants by 0.2sec at Silverstone.
The benchmark time he set in his Honda Civic Type R even took Shedden himself by surprise. “We were just running through our development programme: there was no hero stuff from me – in fact, I am surprised that others didn’t go faster than us,” he says.
The reason there’s a latent confidence in his pace is that he knows his Honda was running in race trim, yet he has some suspicions about the other lap times that were set during the six hours of testing.
“I stood outside the garage and watched drivers rocking their soft tyres, and some of the other cars were so low to the ground that you wouldn’t have been able to get your foot under them, let alone adhering to the official limits on ride height,” he says. “Some people were setting times and we did wonder how valid some of those were.