Shedden fights back to win Race 1
5 June 2011 – Gordon Shedden secured victory in the first of three races at Oulton Park this afternoon, regaining his lead after losing out to Honda Racing team-mate Matt Neal at the first corner. After electing to start the wet race on slick tyres Shedden initially fell back, but his gamble soon paid off and he ultimately led home Silverline Chevrolet drivers Jason Plato and Alex MacDowall.
"I just didn't think from the warm-up lap I could make a full set of wets last the distance given the conditions so gambled on slicks at the front and it worked," Shedden explained after the race. "Six laps from the end I knew it had been the right way to go because the wets on the rear were shot."
After overnight rain the grid had a difficult decision to make ahead of the race, with much debate as to what the most preferable tyre would be over the full 15 laps. As the lights went out it was Neal who achieved the smoothest getaway, minimising wheelspin from his Honda Civic and finding the room required to get into the lead around the outside of Turn 1.
However, the two-time Champion soon came under pressure from Shedden who was eager to regain his lead. After a few tentative looks the Scot made his way back into the lead at Island Hairpin, quickly pulling away and settling into a rhythm in clean air. Meanwhile, Plato was also making his way through the field, putting a move on Team Aon driver Andy Neate before latching onto the back of Neal’s car.
Plato found his way past the Honda driver on Lap 5, pulling off a similar move to the one Shedden completed a lap earlier. Neal continued to drop back as the race progressed, losing out to the train of cars behind and seeing a potentially strong points haul slip away. As the race entered its final lap Tom Boardman was making rapid progress in his SEAT Leon, but contact between Andy Neate and Jeff Smith sent the latter straight into the side of his car at Island Hairpin, ending both men’s races.
As the chequered flag came out no one could get close to Shedden, while behind the two Silverline Chevrolet drivers it was James Nash who secured a well-deserved fourth place after battling through the pack. Rob Collard was next up in fifth place, comfortably ahead of Nick Foster and Lea Wood who registered their personal best BTCC results. Matt Neal could do no better than eighth as he crossed the line, ending the race just ahead of Andy Neate and Andrew Jordan.
- The incident between Smith and Boardman can be viewed at GPUpdate TV
Race 2 begins at 2.30pm local time (BST)