This year’s Dunlop British Touring Car Championship is set for a thrilling triple-header showdown at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Fifer Gordon Shedden bids to become the first Scot to win the British Touring Car Championship since Galashiels John Cleland in 1995. And Shedden knows he will be in exalted company if he does clinch the title in Sunday’s three-ace finales at Brands.
“Apart from John, the only other Scottish driver to win a British touring car title is the legendary, double Formula One World Champion Jim Clark,” the 33-year-old from Dalgety Bay said.
“It’s a very exclusive club, but it’s one I’m desperate to become a member of. I got very close last year, and was knocking on the door right up until the final meeting. This year I aim to go one step further.”
Twelve months ago Shedden was denied the title by his Honda racing team-mate Matt Neal.
This weekend though, the Scot starts the first of the Brands triple-headers leading the Englishman by 31 points. Ominously though for Shedden, his nearest rival, just 15 points adrift, is Jason Plato.
The MG driver, already a double champ, won twice last time out at Silverstone to close the gap on the Fifer. And the Oxford driver is adamant he will prevail at the Kent circuit.
“It’s a track which is ideally suited to the MG,” Plato, who has won seven race wins around Brands Hatch’s legendary GP circuit, said.
“I think we’re going to take some stopping this weekend. And you’ve got to remember, I’ve been over this course before: Gordon still has to win his first title.”
Shedden, who unlike Plato has never won on the grand prix circuit, has though won eight races this season to the MG driver’s six.
And the Scot — who lines up for tomorrow’s qualifying, plus Sunday’s opening race lumbered with 45kgs of ‘success’ ballast compared to the 36kgs and 27kgs of Plato and Neal respectively — acknowledges he’s in the best form of his life.
“I’ve definitely improved this season,” he explained. “This is one of the most competitive touring car championship’s in the world, so to remain competitive you have to keep improving.
“I just didn’t have enough last year, but I definitely feel this is the year for me to win the championship.
“But I’m not getting carried away: I know anything can happen in motorsport. Look at the last rounds at Silverstone a fortnight ago: three races, and Matt failed to score in any of them. That could easily happen to me this weekend.”
The shootout though has a number of undercurrents which are likely to bubble to the surface and influence the outcome.
Last year Shedden so often ran as rear gunner during Neal’s march to the championship: expect the roles to be reversed on Sunday.
And it’s well known there’s no love lost between Neal and his arch rival Plato, as a series of comings together both on, and off-track, testify.
“Will there be an element of team work?,” Shedden smiled. “Oh yeh, absolutely. But that’s what we always do. We’ll help each other out as and when we can.”
Tomorrow’s BTCC finale promises to be a case of “light blue touchpaper, and stand well back”.
Blackcircles.com stocks a comprehensive range of Dunlop tyres, in addition to those from all the other leading tyre manufacturers, all at the most competitive prices. Plus we can arrange for you to have your car’s new tyres fitted at a time and location best-suited to you