Gordon Shedden has sealed a sensational race two victory for Honda at Brands Hatch – by just 0.040s from WSR’s Andy Priaulx – after long time leader Jason Plato hit late trouble.
Leading from the front, few could have predicted the drama to follow as Plato’s VW led comfortably from the chasing pack. Shedden’s all-new Civic Type R held second after squeezing by Priaulx on lap one and then past race one winner Rob Collard, whose car seemed to face similar performance troubles on the soft tyre that his team-mate had experienced in the season opener.
Shedden squabbled with Priaulx for much of the running, with reigning champion Colin Turkington also hanging on behind in the second Team BMR VW. Fellow stablemate Aron Smith had already been shuffled down the order after contact with MG’s Jack Goff at Graham Hill Bend, in an incident which hampered both drivers.
Collard was busy falling through the order – eventually finishing outside the points paying positions – while WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan was quietly making solid progress. Having started tenth on the grid the Lancastrian was up to fifth by mid-distance, with Andrew Jordan’s MG and the impressive Speedworks Toyota of Tom Ingram tucked in behind.
WSR’s Sam Tordoff was busy fending off Matt Neal’s Honda, the latter of whom recovered from a wild ride through the gravel at Paddock.
With the race seemingly settled drama then struck leader Plato with just four laps to go. Approaching the ultra-fast and daunting Paddock Hill Bend his car careered off with what turned out to be a puncture. With Plato’s race now over, Priaulx almost simultaneously attacked Shedden for what would now be for victory. Contact at McLaren’s gave Priaulx a gap big enough to squeeze his BMW through on the way down to Paddock, but the Scot fought back immediately with a stellar move down the inside at Druids. Priaulx settled back into second to reevaluate his plan of attack, which was to come in dramatic circumstances.
The attack came on the last corner of the last lap as Priaulx took advantage while Shedden was passing a backmarker. A tin-top tap from the Guernseyman followed sending both cars side-by-side towards the finish line. With the collective crowd cheering it was Shedden who held on to take one of the most enthralling and closest ever BTCC victories.
Turkington took the first podium of his championship defence campaign while Morgan took an unlikely, yet well deserved, fourth place finish. The loudest roar came from the Honda camp, however, as the new Type R claimed victory in only its second outing.
“Wow! A first win for the Honda Civic Type R before it’s even in the showrooms,” said Shedden. “We have a habit of building very fast cars at the last minute and winning first time out! It was an exciting race, I had a moment on the last lap with backmarkers which made it a photo finish, but you’ve only got to win by the tiniest of margins and they don’t come much smaller than that.”
Priaulx responded, “I was just willing the car on to get to the line first after I got up the inside – it was fantastic fun! I thought I might just have got it but fair play to Gordon, it was a good fun, hard race. I saw the gap into Clearways – the Honda looked to be struggling mid-corner, but I’m still happy to be on the podium. I’m there at the front and that’s where we need to be, we are struggling with straight line speed though so we need to work on that, but with pole and a podium it’s been a great first day back in the BTCC.”