MATT JAMES’ PERFECT 10 OF THE ’10S: The 2015 Showdown
Throughout the next fortnight, Motorsport News Editor Matt James will continue to reveal his top ten memories from the last ten years of the British Touring Car Championship. It’s another one of the BTCC’s legendary showdowns today: 2015.
When: October 11, 2015
Where: Brands Hatch
Realistically it was all about Jason Plato versus Gordon Shedden for the 2015 championship spoils. Plato had taken his BMR Racing VW CC to five victories going into the finale at Brands Hatch in early October, while Shedden had four wins in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R. Despite that, Shedden had the upper hand by 23 points as the teams assembled in Kent for the final showdown.
That buffer had been chipped away slightly after the opening race on the grand prix track as the Scotsman finished sixth in the first encounter, right behind Plato.
But it was race two where the real drama unfolded. Shedden dropped to 16th spot on the first lap and knew that all was not right with his Japanese machine.
A pinched brake pipe had led to the anchors remaining partially on throughout the race, and his Civic lacked the real punch that he needed to make any progress at all. It was a painful 15 laps for the Honda man, who was aiming for his second BTCC title.
He was powerless to prevent slipping down the order further as the brake discs on his hatchback glowed red hot. There was a very real chance that he wouldn’t finish the race, but he made it to the flag in 19th spot.
With Plato taking his chances and, from a handy front-row start in the reversed-grid finale, going on to dominate the very last race, the pressure was on Shedden. He had to climb from 19th to sixth position (at least) to land the big prize.
He began one of the races of his life to tear up the lower order. He was in the top ten after just nine laps and then set about his rivals one by one to cross the line in fourth spot. That was enough for the crown by a slender four points in one of the category’s most memorable finales.
Shedden admitted afterwards that he had put everything on the line in those 18 laps in a car that was shorn of any success ballast after his travails earlier in the afternoon. “I knew that I was either going to do enough to win the title, or end up on my roof in the tyre barrier. I was going to give it everything I had,” said Shedden afterwards. “I did, and it paid off. Why doesn’t this championship get any easier?”
It certainly doesn’t, but Shedden became the first driver for almost ten years to claim back-to-back titles with another successful campaign in 2016.