A run of strong results in last weekend’s British Touring Car Championship races at Silverstone boosted points leader Gordon Shedden’s hopes of securing his second title, as main rival Jason Plato struggled with a poorly car.
For the second time in succession, Mat Jackson put the Motorbase Ford Focus on pole by over two tenths of a second – a big margin in the BTCC. He put the hammer down from the off and cruised to an easy win. It was a carbon copy of his performance last time out at Rockingham, and left many wondering what might have been if the team had contested the full season. If the Kent-based squad can secure the funding for a full campaign next year, they are sure to be a major threat for the championship.
Andrew battled through from fourth to finish second, passing Sam Tordoff as he ran wide on the first lap, then diving past Shedden on the next tour. Shedden held onto third despite carrying 75kg of success ballast in his Honda and closed to the leaders late on as their soft tyres wilted. But it was too late and Shedden found himself fighting off the advances of Dave Newsham, putting in his best showing of the year in the Power Maxed Chevrolet.
Plato, meanwhile, struggled round with an unidentified engine issue that first surfaced during qualifying, before being sidelined with a puncture late in the race. Team BMR pair Colin Turkington and Aron Smith ran nose-to-tail throughout; Rob Collard fought his way to seventh ahead of Matt Neal; Tom Ingram took ninth and Sam Tordoff tumbled to tenth.
BTCC Silverstone Race 1 top ten finishers after 22 laps
- Mat Jackson — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — 21:47.275
- Andre Jordan — MG Pirtek Racing/MG6 GT — +2.138
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +2.325
- Dave Newsham — Power Maxed Racing/Chevrolet Cruze — +2.665
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +2.848
- Aron Smith — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +3.095
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +4.099
- Matt Neal — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +4.355
- Tom Ingram — Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis — +4.597
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +8.014
Fastest lap in Race 1 gave Mat Jackson pole for the second contest of the day. He got another fast start but soon found himself under pressure from Andy Priaulx, who beat Jack Goff off the line to take second.
The BMW and MG drivers tussled in the early laps, allowing VW man Aron Smith close up and join the dispute. That diverted Goff’s attention and allowed Priaulx to make the break, catching then passing Jackson a couple of laps later. Jackson held onto second but his race came undone when he picked up a puncture.
Now in second, Goff gradually eased away from Smith, pulling out nearly a second by the end. Behind the front runners, Andrew Jordan was embroiled with Gordon Shedden for much of the race, before a puncture put paid to the MG’s chances. Shedden took fourth, with teammate Matt Neal and Sam Tordoff in close attendance. Yorkshireman Tordoff pulled off some eye-catching passes as he progressed through the field.
Jason Plato battled up from eleventh to seventh, while Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and James Cole closed out the top ten.
BTCC Silverstone Race 2 top ten finishers after 22 laps
- Andy Priaulx — Team IHG Rewards Club/BMW 125i M Sport — 21:48.624
- Jack Goff — MG 5 Star Cases Racing/MG6 GT — +1.802
- Aron Smith — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +2.791
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +7.547
- Matt Neal — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +7.803
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +7.962
- Jason Plato — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +8.454
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +13.402
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +13.848
- James Cole — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — +14.109
James Cole was drawn on pole for the reverse grid Race 3 but he made a clumsy start, allowing Rob Collard and Colin Turkington through. Turkington charged up behind Collard and swept through on lap two.
At the other end of the Wellington Straight, the mid-field bunched up causing Dan Welch and Hunter Abbott to collide heavily. The safety car came out, but the action soon resumed with Sam Tordoff hounding teammate Collard for second. Collard eventually allowed Tordoff through so he could chase after Turkington. Unable to do so, though, he slotted back in behind Collard.
Plato had a feisty drive to fourth, nudging his way past Cole, who promptly fell down the order. Tension brewed as old adversaries Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal closed in on Plato, but the trio opted to sensible and collect solid points, rather than go for broke at this late stage of the season.
Matt Jackson crossed the line seventh, ahead of Adam Morgan and Cole. Aiden Moffat was tenth, having spent much of the race arguing the position with Tom Ingram.
BTCC Silverstone Race 3 top ten finishers after 25 laps
- Colin Turkington — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — 27:03.506
- Rob Collard — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +2.117
- Sam Tordoff — JCT600 Racing w. GardX/BMW 125i M Sport — +2.387
- Jason Plato — Team BMR RCIB Insurance/Volkswagen CC — +3.078
- Gordon Shedden — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +3.497
- Matt Neal — Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic Type R — +3.908
- Mat Jackson — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — +4.036
- Adam Morgan — WIX Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +4.697
- James Cole — Motorbase Performance/Ford Focus ST — +5.967
- Aiden Moffat — Laser Tools Racing/Mercedes A-Class — +10.448
Once again the title goes down to the wire. With just three races remaining at the last round at Brands Hatch, Gordon Shedden holds a 23 point lead over Jason Plato. With 64 points on offer Colin Turkington, Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan still have a mathematical chance of claiming the title, but all eyes will be on the top two.
Shedden said: “It’s great to come away with such a good points haul from a circuit that we always knew was going to be difficult for us, because it traditionally has been in recent years. Coming to Silverstone, our aim was damage limitation and to try to maintain our championship lead, so to actually extend it is a really positive outcome.”
Plato added: “It was a strange weekend – we should have been quick on the straights and we weren’t. There’s no getting around it – a 23 point gap is not good – but we all know anything can happen in this game and it can all turn around on a sixpence.”
Literally anything could happen to any of the front-runners at Brands; crashes, breakdowns and the weather could be a factor for the first time this year. One thing is for sure, though. We almost certainly won’t have a champion until chequered flag goes out on the final race.
The final races of the 2015 BTCC take place on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 11 October.
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By Only Motors