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Plato wins, but fails to deny Shedden's second BTCC title

Sunday, October 11 2015

Jason Plato won the final Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the season at Brands Hatch today (Sunday), but it was rival Gordon Shedden who took the title with a champions' drive to fourth place from 19th on the grid.

At the start, Matt Neal initially led but ran wide at Paddock to let Plato, who had chopped Jack Goff off the line, through into the lead. Behind, Jake Hill and Tom Ingram were both off at Druids, bringing out the safety car. Shedden's start had yielded him 16th place and time to close on the cars ahead. However, he still needed to take at least another ten places to be assured of the title and, the first of these would be Plato's team-mate Alain Menu.

At the restart, Plato made a fine getaway as Neal fought with Goff, attempting to back the field up to help his team-mate. Then Stewart Lines' season ended in the gravel, and the safety car came out again. During this intervention, Menu pitted, which must have given Shedden a great deal of relief.

Once hostilities were resumed once again, Goff demoted Neal, with Mat Jackson following through behind. Dave Newsham entered the gravel at Clark Curve, occasioning another safety car. By now Shedden was up to 12th place and Goff had taken fastest lap from Plato.

On the third restart, Shedden fell back a little as he planned the attack that may yet save his championship hopes. He took Sam Tordoff for tenth place by the end of the lap, then Jordan let him through at Pilgrim's Drop next time round. Andy Priaulx yielded a few corners later, but next up was Aron Smith.

Meanwhile Plato took the fastest lap back from Goff as Shedden duelled with Smith through Stirlings and Clearways. Now Rob Collard lay ahead.

Whilst Shedden worked on Collard, Mat Jackson and Matt Neal fought with Goff for second place. Adam Morgan also got involved and a huge battled ensued that let Jackson clear them all. This helped Shedden catch them, after he took sixth place from Collard.

Neal may have needed to slow dramatically as by now there were just a few laps to go, but the matter became academic on lap 15 when Shedden passed Morgan for fifth place and, provided he finished, the title.

Shedden still had plenty to give and challenged a soft-tyred Goff on lap 16. With two more to go, Morgan and co were not far behind, so action was required. Neal backed off to assist and needed to let both through once it was clear that the MG was not going to yield. Shedden put his title on the line as he fought in a repeat of the pair's 2013 final race tussle, but he would not find a way past. No matter, for Neal was just as defensive with the rest.

Plato crossed the line almost four seconds to the good from Jackson, who had taken the best weekend points haul of the season. Goff completed the podium, just a tenth ahead of the new champion, who was followed home by his team-mate. The margin of victory was just four points, the closest for some time.

An overwhelmed Shedden said: "It felt a million miles away after race two, like the impossible dream. But everything worked in my favour, and I kept my head down."

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race three
1, Jason Plato, Team BMR, VW CC, 18 Laps
2, Mat Jackson, Motorbase, Ford Focus, +3.536s
3, Jack Goff, MG 888 Racing, MG6 GT, +8.954s
4, Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +9.086s
5, Matt Neal, Honda Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +9.564s
6, Adam Morgan, WIX Racing, Mercedes A Class, +10.079s
7, Rob Collard, WSR, BMW 125i M-Sport, +10.289s
8, Andrew Jordan, MG 888 Racing, MG6 GT, +10.492s
9, Aron Smith, Team BMR, VW CC, +10.978s
10, Andy Priaulx, WSR, BMW 125i M-Sport, +11.220s

Championship points after 30 of 30 rounds
1, Gordon Shedden, 348
2, Jason Plato, 344
3, Matt Neal, 317
4, Colin Turkington, 310
5, Andrew Jordan, 274

Next weekend, (16-18 October) Brands Hatch hosts the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Showdown Finale. Tickets available in advance from £26, with free admission for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.