Honda Racing has secured a 1-2 finish in the final race of the day as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returned at Brands Hatch.
Despite starting from the back of the field after his race three exclusion, Gordon Shedden drove a flawless race, coming close to beating his team mate Matt Neal over the line. Sam Tordoff, who showed promise earlier on in the day rounded out the top three finishers to take his first BTCC podium for MG KX Momentum Racing.
In terms of tyres, all NGTC drivers bar Turkington, Morgan, Austin, Collard, Tordoff, Welch and Jackson were on the soft options – with all eyes on the leaders to see if they tyres would last throughout the race.
Mat Jackson made a great start from pole position, with Matt Neal taking second, whilst Colin Turkington made a spectacular trip across the gravel after a slight touch with Jason Plato. He managed to make his way back onto the grid, however did lose several places.
The start of the race was interrupted by another safety car period, as Rob Austin could do nothing to avoid the sliding Toyota Avensis of Dave Newsham coming out of Paddock Hill Bend – resulting in the Audi having a huge impact with the Armco barriers. Both were unharmed in the incident – and managed to get themselves out of the cars.
The restart saw Jackson go wide at Druids, dropping to fourth place and in the clutches of Sam Tordoff and Jeff Smith. Frank Wrathall was making his way through the pack on his soft tyres, whilst the Honda of Gordon Shedden was also working his way up the field.
With the soft tyres showing earlier in the day that they would start to fall off as the race drew to a close, it was Sam Tordoff who was in the perfect position to take advantage. Having spared Jordan of fourth place, it was team mate Jason Plato who was next in line. With Gordon Shedden preparing to take fourth, Tordoff whipped up the inside of his more experienced partner and looked to catch Adam Morgan, who was still maintaining a second place for Cicely Racing.
A battle was developing further down the field for the lead of the S2000 cars, with David Nye coming under pressure from Lea Wood and race two class winner Liam Griffin.
Slight contact between Morgan and Tordoff going into Clearways saw Tordoff take the position, with Gordon Shedden coming through to take the position from Tordoff – who now held third.
Shedden was close to passing Neal over the line, but couldn’t quite manage it, with the pair settling for a team 1-2 to finish what looked to be a disappointing weekend. Sam Tordoff took his first championship podium with Adam Morgan having to settle for a fourth place finish for Cicely Racing.
Lea Wood, who took the S2000 win on the track, was later excluded from the results following a failed ride height check, meaning Liam Griffin took the second S2000 win of the day.
In a disappointing day for eBay Motors, Rob Collard – despite having a new engine installed in the BMW – was forced to retire again for the third time, bringing home no points for the team this weekend. In what was a challenging weekend for the Team HARD. outlets, Jack Goff was also forced to retire from the final race with power-steering issues with his Vauxhall Insignia. Warren Scott also retired in his Team BMR Restart Seat.
Ollie Jackson sat out the third race after acquiring too much damage in race two, alongside James Kaye who had a gearbox issue on his AmDTuning.com Golf. James Cole came into the pits and didn’t get going again for RCIB Insurance Racing after the first out-lap.
After a fantastic opening weekend from Brands Hatch, the next stop is Donington Park in three weeks’ time. Jason Plato leads the standings ahead of Andrew Jordan and team mate Sam Tordoff.
I’ll be live at Donington in three weeks, so keep your eyes on www.girlracer.co.uk and Twitter (@nikki_btcc) for all the latest news and updates.
Race Classification – Top fifteen:
1. Matt Neal
2. Gordon Shedden
3. Sam Tordoff
4. Adam Morgan
5. Jason Plato
6. Andrew Jordan
7. Jeff Smith
8. Frank Wrathall
9. Colin Turkington
10. Mat Jackson
11. Aron Smith
12. Dan Welch
13. Nick Foster
14. Will Bratt
15. Liam Griffin
Fastest lap: Sam Tordoff – 49.112 (Lap 13) By Nikki Thompson (photos by Marc Waller)