Reigning champion Gordon Shedden claimed a last-gasp victory to end a breathless day of BTCC racing at Snetterton, which also included wins for Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Shedden had already secured Honda’s first pole position in more than three years during qualifying at the Norfolk circuit, but a race one win failed to materialise for the Scotsman.
Turkington won the opener after the Silverline Subaru BMR Racing driver eventually got the better of Shedden during a near race-long duel.
It was bumper-to-bumper action for the first half of the contest, but Turkington finally muscled his way past on lap eight of 12. Shedden couldn’t respond and Turkington went on to become the first three-time race winner of 2016.
Mat Jackson made the best start of the leading contenders as he blasted his Motorbase Performance Ford Focus from fifth on the grid to third off the line. While Jackson kept the lead duo honest, throughout, he also had to hold off the challenge from Adam Morgan behind. Jackson did the job, claiming a podium on the team’s 300th BTCC race.
Jackson then secured victory in a thrilling, truncated race two, with Turkington and Matt Neal completing the podium positions.
The Focus fired off the line beyond second-placed Shedden and then past pole man Turkington, before a multi-car collision sparked drama down the order. Aron Smith and Kelvin Fletcher had a coming together on the exit of turn one, but the major incident came later in the lap when Dan Welch and Ollie Jackson tangled as they ran on to the Bentley Straight. With dust filling the air the unsighted Alex Martin, Hunter Abbott and Ashley Sutton were all caught up in the accident. Stationary cars littered the track, several with heavy damage, leaving race officials with no choice but to stop the race.
Take two and Jackson produced an almost carbon copy of his earlier effort – leading Shedden off the line but waiting until Hamilton corner before disposing of Turkington. Jackson remained untroubled for the remainder of the shortened ten lap race, with Turkington following up his race one win with another solid showing in the second bout.
The fight for the final podium place remained undecided until the closing moments, as Neal and Rob Collard provided a spectacle of superb racing. Collard looked to have made a move stick after both cars ran side-by-side for much of lap eight, but triple champion Neal immediately fought back to retake the position. The striking Halfords-backed Honda held on to reach the rostrum, but both drivers strengthened their respective championship challenges with stellar points finishes.
Shedden then completed a sensational day of entertainment by snatching an unlikely last lap victory in the final race on the Snetterton 300 layout.
A dramatic accident brought about the second red flag of the day when contact between Mark Howard, Martin, Jackson and Abbott sent the latter’s Chevrolet Cruze into a barrel roll. Abbott’s Power Maxed Racing machine spiralled over the barrier and into a television gantry, leaving a cameraman and several drivers shaken but thankfully unharmed.
Pole-sitter and then championship leader Sam Tordoff broke down before the race could restart as the BTCC threw up yet another twist to the title race. The relentless drama was far from over, however, as Jason Plato chased his first win of the season.
Collard muscled his way past the two-time champion on lap two before Jackson and Shedden followed suit one tour later. Third became second for Shedden when Jackson’s Ford slowed with a problem on the Bentley Straight.
The Honda Civic Type R began reeling in Collard at a rate of knots and was right on his tail coming into the final lap. Shedden fired the #52 machine down the inside of the Team JCT600 with GardX BMW and the duo ran side-by-side for what seemed like an eternity. Collard eventually had to give up the challenge and settle for second, as Shedden stormed to an outstanding victory.
Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin claimed a popular podium as he fended off Plato, Andrew Jordan and Turkington at the chequered flag.
Collard now leads the driver standings by three points from team-mate Sam Tordoff, with Honda’s Neal a further three points back. Unsurprisingly West Surrey Racing/Team JCT600 with GardX top the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ tables respectively. Andrew Jordan and his Motorbase Performance team head the Independents’ honours, whilst MG’s Ashley Sutton remains in control of the Jack Sears Trophy.
Gordon Shedden said: “Five laps from home, it wasn’t happening. Three laps from home it wasn’t happening, but somehow we made it. What a race for us and what a move. I braked really nice and late into the hairpin and normally that’s more of a BMW move but we made it work. We were both slipping and sliding in there but I got up the inside. I’m delighted to get the result, it was a stunning one for the team and myself.”
Matt Neal said: “It’s a good job I’m not a betting man because I’d have put money on Rob Collard taking the race two podium with three laps to go. To start with I got my head down and was trying to be as aggressive as I could, looking forward to Colin Turkington. I saw Rob’s BMW in the mirrors and my attentions had to turn from attacking to defending because he was flying. He was charging but the Type R held on!”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 16 – Snetterton:
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 23:46.178
2 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +2.771s
3 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +4.042s
4 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +5.400s
5 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +6.880s
6 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +8.994s
7 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +9.607s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +10.172s
9 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +11.160s
10 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +12.647s
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 17 – Snetterton:
1 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance 19m48.288s
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.190s
3 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.950s
4 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +2.140s
5 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +7.255s
6 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +7.687s
7 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +8.421s
8 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +9.935s
9 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +11.649s
10 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +11.989s
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 18 – Snetterton:
1 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 19m56.310s
2 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.525s
3 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +3.738s
4 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +4.306s
5 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +4.406s
6 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +5.278s
7 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +6.288s
8 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +6.434s
9 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +6.621s
10 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +7.219s