Sunday, 15 September 2013

2013 BTCC Final Three Races Catchup

So after checking my blog, it would seem that I haven't posted since 28th September. My apologies for that as it was down to an intense hunt for work.

Thankfully I can say that I am now employed so I can get back to the blogging!! Now normally I would put a blog out about each BTCC round but I have decided to for go that to do a catchup.

Whats also obvious is that the whole month of October has past and we now have a newly crowned BTCC Champion in the form of Andrew Jordan. And well done to him. He's looked the most committed and the most willing to take the fight to the four established BTCC Champions competing this year: Jason Plato, Colin Turkington, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden.

Better get the kettle on.... Yup its one of those long ones...

Maybe a few biscuits too...

Things swung in Jordan's favour at Rockingham. Although he had won races previously in the season, Jordan often qualified behind Neal for the first race on Sunday and needed a change of luck. That luck came in the form of what was to be a bad day for Matt himself.

While Plato stuck his MG on pole for race one with Rob Austin alongside him in his NGTC Audi A4, Jordan had a spectacular first lap that left him with a lead he wouldn't lose. An accident involving Andy Neate, Ollie Jackson and Dan Welch brought out the safety car and when racing resumed, Neal spun down to 14th in the damp but drying conditions. Whilst Jordan won from Mat Jackson and Rob Austin, he also took the championship points lead. Shedden, Plato and Turkington were 4th, 5th and 6th followed by Collard, Newsham, Jack Goff and Wrathall.

In fact 9th place for the Team HARD. driver was the beginning of a welcome return for Jack Goff after missing the three Knockhill races and the beginning of an impressive turn of speed that the former Clio Cup star is known for...

He's one to watch...

Race two will probably go down as the most fan popular race of the season. Rob Austin powered "Sherman" into the lead at the start and stayed there, taking his first BTCC overall win in drying conditions. Rob has taken podiums throughout this season and a switch to the TOCA 2 litre turbo engine has paid dividends. However it wasnt an easy win as Shedden and Turkington progressed forward to pressure Austin.

Matt Neal suffered retirement on lap 10 and Jordan finished 8th. After the race three draw, Jordan was picked for pole and he drove hard for the win to take a second race win from Sunday. He was chased home by Turkington and Plato but in turned kept his championship lead and that was vital as the BTCC headed to Silverstone.

Other drivers who showed an upturn in performance at Rockingham were Dave Newsham in the Speedworks Toyota, Mat Jackson in the Airwaves Ford and Sam Tordoff who returned to his usual top six position in the championship. Tom Onslow-Cole had a quiet return with Airwaves whilst Team HARD. debutants Howard Fuller and Andy Wilmot showed good speed in the Vauxhall Insignia and VW Passat respectively. Meanwhile Lea Wood won the inaugural Jack Sears Trophy by taking three wins in the S2000 class at Rockingham.

The high speed nature of the Silverstone National Circuit normally favours the faster MG compared to the more nimble Honda but this year was honours even between the two marques in my opinion. With 45kgs on board in qualifying presenting a new challenge for Jordan, the aim for him was clear: leave Silverstone with the points lead intact.

Whilst Plato took pole for race one in an MG 1-2 front row lock out, Jordan lined up 10th with title contenders Turkington 4th, Neal 9th and  Shedden in 16th. Whilst Plato led Tordoff to a 1-2 finish, Newsham starred from 3rd on the grid on lap one but a spin on cold tyres dropped him down the order. However all four NGTC Toyota's would show great speed on race day and soon places were made up. Behind the MG's Neal took 3rd whilst Turkington was 4th, both drivers trying to close the gap on Jordan who finished race one in 6th, shedding his weight for race two.

Whilst Plato roared off the line, things exploded behind with Austin, Wrathall and Onslow-Cole making contact, causing an early safety car period. This allowed a ballast free, soft tyre shod Jordan to quickly move forward when racing resumed and soon he was hassling Plato for the lead. Although there was contact between them, the racing stayed fair and Airwaves Ford driver Aron Smith joined the fight in the final laps. Plato went on to win from Jordan and Smith.

Turkington was 5th behind Tordoff whilst Neal held off Shedden, Newsham, Welch and Jackson for 6th which after the race three draw would give the Honda driver pole. Indeed the performances from Neal (with a broken finger) and Welch (with injuries from his crash with Andy Neate at Rockingham) were standout due to injuries they drove with. However another man on a mission was Gordon Shedden, looking to retain his title from 2012.

Shedden went onto win race three from Aron Smith, taking another podium and showed the ever improved pace of the Airwaves Focus. Neal was 3rd and with Jordan finishing in 5th and Plato 7th, things were looking good for Jordan. However Turkingtons hope took a battering blow after Mat Jackson tried a move at Copse that resulted in contact and retirement for the Ebay BMW driver.

Other drivers of note from Silverstone were the Toyota's of Dave Newsham and Ollie Jackson at Speedworks, both whom enjoyed a great battle with Ciceley Racing's Adam Morgan during races two and three. Also Aiden Moffat who replaced Andy Wilmot in the VW Passat and scored his first points as well. Moffat had an outing in the Finesse Motorsport S2000 Chevrolet Cruze at Knockhill but suffered mechanical issues.

However here is another youngster racing for Team HARD. and at Silverstone he showed good pace...

For Jordan it was mission accomplished as the series headed for Brands Hatch and Finals Day. Andy led Matt Neal by 34 points and Gordon Shedden by 35. Turkington was 48 behind with Plato 49 behind. However with a Maximum of 67 points on offer, all five drivers had a chance. Even Plato who had ruled himself out of the title race and there would be surprises to come on a wet and horrible race day...

Race one saw Plato and Tordoff lock out the front row with Jordan hussling his Pirtek Racing Honda to 3rd. Championship contenders Shedden took 4th with Turkington 6th for the grid. Both Matt Neal and Aron Smith suffered crashes in qualifying whilst Jake Hill showed good pace by qualifying the 2nd Rob Austin Racing Audi in 10th place. Hill showed well in the wet conditions earlier in the year at Croft where he took a JST win in the S2000 Focus.

In the race itself Plato moved into the lead whilst Shedden moved ahead of both Jordan and Tordoff to keep pressure on the MG in the wet conditions, typically the achilles heel of the NGTC built car. Turkington was eliminated on lap one after being spun round and making head on contact with his team mate Nick Foster.

Tom Onslow-Cole was having a better weekend and managed to pass Andrew Jordan to take 4th after Jordan went wide at Graham Hill bend in the slippery conditions. He also outshone the regular Airwaves Ford frivers Mat Jackson and Aron Smith who finished in 9th and 10th. However Andy kept his title lead intact even with Neal making his way up to 6th at the end of race one.

Then came race two and the biggest twist in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship...

Plato led home Tordoff for another MG 1-2 finish, proving that race one was no flash in the pan with Mat Jackson third, but earlier in the race disaster struck the title aspirations for Jordan. Coming into Surtees on lap 2, Jordan left the door open letting Aron Smith pounce for position. However Smith passed Jordan for position and then made contact with Rob Collard in his BMW. Jordan was forced to try and avoid Collard and Neal made contact with the Pirtek Honda on the left rear wheel.

Andy was out in what was his first retirement all season. Thats how good this guy has been in 2013. I can tell you that the missus and I cried out in despair as we watched, horrified that Andy could lose out on his title in waiting that he was working so hard on.

Whilst Plato went on to win, Neal retired during race two and then the engine bay caught fire to add further despair to his title hopes which were now over. Shedden finished in 7th place and after Alan Gow did the race three draw, this put the 2012 champion on pole with Team HARD's Jack Goff alongside.

See, told you that guy Goff was fast...

So the title now fell to three men. Jordan, Plato and Shedden. It was a simple permutation. Shedden needed to win with Jordan not in the points. But if Plato was in a podium position, Jordan needed to be 7th.

Race three began with Shedden taking the lead from Goff who was right behind the Works Honda and pushing him in the wet, hard. It was obvious there was pace in the Insignia and a possible win was on the cards. Whilst Goff hassled Shedden, Jordan was making his way up through the field whilst Plato was falling back on max ballast in the worsening conditions.

The turning point came when Jordan passed Plato for 9th. From that point on the title was Andy's and we tantalisingly watched as Plato circulated behind the Honda whilst Shedden did everything he could to hold off Goff. Jack gave 110% and it was his best performance of the season taking 2nd in the race behind Shedden and adding another podium to the three that Tom Onslow-Cole took in the VW Passat at Thruxton and Croft. That capped off an up and down year for the Kent based team having built their own NGTC Cars.

But all congratulations finally go to Andrew Jordan, not only 2013 overall Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion but also 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Independent Champion. After the ups and downs of the 2012 season, he came back a drove a determined and driven season. He is a deserving champion and a popular champion.

Finally the overall standings at the end of a spectacular BTCC season:

Andrew Jordan    397pts
Gordon Shedden  390pts
Jason Plato          380pts
Matt Neal              356pts
Colin Turkington  347pts
Sam Tordoff         286pts
Adam Morgan     233pts
Mat Jackson       225pts
Aron Smith          201pts
Dave Newsham  176pts

Now I realise the BTCC season is over but I will try to keep you updated with any news as its released regarding developments on the 2014 BTCC and WTCC seasons.

I'll also be keeping an eye on the last two WTCC race weekends at China and Macau.

So stay warm and enjoy your weekend!!



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