Shedden faces tough battleposted in BTCC20 | 10 | 2012

    FIFER GORDON SHEDDEN faces a nerve-racking opening race in tomorrow's opening battle in the British Touring Car Championship finale at Brands Hatch.

    The 33-year-old from Dalgety Bay starts the first of the final triple-header from a disappointing seventh on the grid.

    Significantly Shedden, bidding to become the first Scot to win the BTCC title since Galashiels' John Cleland in 1995, lines up behind his two main rivals.

    Double champ Jason Plato, second in the championship and 15 points behind Shedden, starts the first race from fifth in his MG.

    Perhaps more significantly, Shedden's Honda Racing team-mate, defending champ Matt Neal — 31 points behind the Scot with 66 points available today — starts third.

    Twelve months ago Shedden acted as 'rear gunner' for Neal — whose family company Team Dynamics prepares the 'works' Hondas — as he edged out the Scot for the title.

    Tomorrow Neal is expected to make life as difficult as possible for Plato, especially if the MG looms up in the rear view mirror of Neal's Honda.

    "Gordon and I will be working very much as a team," Neal admitted. "He and I both have a job to do, and our No1 priority is to ensure a Honda wins the championship."

    Fifer Gordon Shedden targeting BTCC crown

    The on- and off-track clashes between Neal and Plato over the years have been well documented: already this season they've barged each other off the track.

    Shedden's job — simple on paper — is to stay out of trouble and shadow both his main title rivals.

    "The main thing is, I can see my two championship rivals ahead of me," the Scot said, "so as long as I can control the gap to them in the race, we should be ok.

    "Ideally though, I'd like to finish right on Plato's bumper, or ahead of him in the first race.

    "After that we can re-assess our strategy for races two and three. But as I've said all week, it's going to be a really tough three races.

    "It's not been the ideal qualifying. But then, I'm carrying 45kgs of ballast, while Plato only has 36kg in his car, so that's obviously had an effect in qualifying."

    Tom Onslow-Cole bagged his first pole of the season in his BMW, lapping the 2.4-mile grand prix circuit in Kent in 1min 31.615secs on his final run.

    Andrew Jordan's Honda starts second, just 0.088s off pole, with Neal third, 0.301s back. The defending champ lines up on the second row alongside Onslow-Cole's team-mate Rob Collard.

    Fellow Fifer Rory Butcher starts third in the Porsche Carrera Cup finale. The 25-year-old from Kirkcaldy is bidding to finish third in the championship in his Celtic Speed Porsche 911.

    New Porsche Cayenne flagship

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    Jim McGill


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