BMW still ahead despite Silverstone struggle

Motorsport
BMW still ahead despite Silverstone struggle

British Touring Car Championship leader Sam Tordoff endured a difficult day at Silverstone, but will still go to the Brands Hatch finale in two weeks’ time with his BMW leading the point standings.

The form, however, appears to be with Honda‘s Gordon Shedden after a strong day cultivating in his fourth win of the year, while most disappointed leaving the Northamptonshire circuit will be the MG pairing of Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook, a one-two finish in race one wiped out when they were excluded for technical irregularities.

Heroes to zeroes

The first race took attention away from the championship, featuring an absorbing battle for the lead between the Triple Eight Racing MG6 entries of Sutton and Cook and Tom Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota Avensis. Pole-sitter Sutton was beaten away from the start by Ingram but fought back and moved ahead with a robust move on the eighth of 22 laps. Cook initially lost his third-place start to Andrew Jordan’s Motorbase Ford Focus, but soon regained the place, and with 12 laps down pulled a robust move on Ingram to secure a one-two finish for the delighted Triple Eight team.

However delight turned to frustration soon after when both MGs were excluded from the results when officials found their rear spoilers to be mounted at the wrong angle. As the win was handed to Ingram, Triple Eight announced its intention to appeal.

It was not a good race for the title contenders. With points leader Sam Tordoff’s JCT600 BMW 118i struggling to make progress from a lowly 17th starting spot and third-placed Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic Type-R suffering a puncture, the momentum looked to be shifting towards Shedden’s Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate Matt Neal, second in the points to the BMW. But then the Honda also suffered a puncture, losing an eighth-place finish, vital points and a competitive start spot for race two.

Tordoff, meanwhile, managed to finish 12th to extend his lead over Neal from five to nine points, and secure a race two start spot 13 places ahead of his nearest rival.

Ashley Sutton's delight at his MG's performance soon turned to frustration. Photo: PSP Images

Ashley Sutton’s delight at his MG’s performance soon turned to frustration. Photo: PSP Images

Ford to the fore

From an unexpected pole position in race two Ingram took the lead, chased by the Motorbase Focus of Jordan, who then forced his way through on lap seven.

Soon Jordan was under pressure from Adam Morgan’s on-form Wix Racing Mercedes A-Class, and with the Focus on soft tyres it seemed only a matter of time before they wore out and the Mercedes moved ahead.

However then a safety-car period was sparked by a front tyre exploding on Jeff Smith’s Eurotech Honda and showering the Wellington Straight with debris. The three laps in convoy seemed to benefit Jordan’s tyres, and when the race restarted for a five-lap shootout Morgan could not stay close, finishing 0.9 of a second back.

Ingram took third ahead of the Subaru Levorg GTs of Colin Turkington and Jason Plato and the second Motorbase Focus of Matt Jackson, while of the lead championship contenders Shedden finished eighth, Tordoff 11th despite having no fifth gear and Neal scored a single point for 15th. This meant that the BMW driver extended his advantage to 14 points over Neal with Shedden eight further back, a single point ahead of the second BMW of Rob Collard.

Shedden scores in draw

Shedden’s title recovery then received a major boost when the reverse grid draw for race 3 put his Honda onto pole position. He was initially beaten off the line by Collard’s BMW, but a brave outbraking manoeuvre into the hairpin restored top spot to the Honda, which then controlled the race to take the win and move into second in the championship.

Collard was also taken by Matt Jackson’s Focus, but managed to keep the battling Subaru duo of Turkington and Plato behind him. Ingram’s Toyota was also part of this scrap until he retired mid race with a technical issue, while Plato was robbed of a good finish on the last lap when his Levorg became the last of several runners during the day to suffer a puncture.

Tordoff fought his way up the field into sixth spot, but Neal made the more progress to overtake the BMW and at last arrest the points loss to his rival.

All of which leads the championship finely poised going into the final three races on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 2nd October. Tordoff will be surprised to still have the lead after a difficult weekend at Silverstone, but Shedden is just 11 points behind with team-mate Neal a further two back, Collard a further four down. While eight drivers still have a mathematical chance of the title, the champion will likely come from one of this five.

A strong showing moved reigning champion Gordon Shedden past his Honda team-mate Matt Neal into championship second spot. Photo: PSP Images

A strong showing moved reigning champion Gordon Shedden past his Honda team-mate Matt Neal into championship second spot. Photo: PSP Images

 

Andrew Charman

Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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