Gordon Shedden has taken victory in the opening race of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Cars Championship at Oulton Park in an incident packed race.
Gone was the heat and sunshine of the previous day replaced with cloudy and damp conditions for the start of the race. As the start of the race approached the teams were left with the tough choice of which tyres to go with, with rain still hanging in the air there was a mixture of tyres across the grid, Shedden would start the race with slick tyres on the front, wet tyres on the rear.
Tom Chilton would miss the start of the race with suspected brake problems, pushed off the grid as the other drivers left for their formation lap. Pushed to the pitlane Team Aon sprung in to life to get the Focus ready for the pitlane start.
As the lights went out traction was minimal from the line, Neal leapt by teammate Shedden to lead with Andy Neate, Jason Plato and Alex MacDowall close in contention. Further down the grid Jeff Smith was slow off the grid, and Dave Newsham making his race debut in Special Tuning Racing‘s SEAT Leon was pushed wide around Old Hall corner. Lea Wood was hot on the tail of Liam Griffin out of Island Bend and would be challenging him in to the chicane on the start of a storm through the field.
Andrew Jordan would drop down the field after sliding off the track at Island Bend. Neate would find a way by Shedden on the second lap only for the Scotsman to take the position back further around the Cheshire circuit. Paul O’Neill would serve a drivethrough penalty which would drop him from eighth place down to sixteenth. Tom Onslow–Cole was a man on the move as he jumped up to seventh place on the second lap as he looked to make up places from a poor qualifying.
Lap four would see Shedden get by teammate Neal, from this point on he wouldn’t look back to take a commanding victory. Defending champion Jason Plato would find a way by the surprise of qualifying Andy Neate followed by a pass on the next lap in to second place. Plato’s Chevrolet teammate MacDowall would be the next to make up a position as Neal dropped back through the pack on his full wet tyres.
The top three positions would remain the same for the rest of the race but there was still action on track further down the field.
Tom Boardman had been making steady progress through the race on his full slick setup and looked set to get a certain top 10 finish, this would come to a spectacular end when Jeff Smith collided with Andy Neate into Island Bend. Following the coming together the Vauxhall Vectra was pitched in to a spin on the grass, Boardman would provide an unfortunate barrier for Smith as he flew backwards into the side of the SEAT, taking both cars out of the running and leaving Special Tuning Racing a massive task ahead of the second race.
In contrast Boardman’s teammate Dave Newsham would settle in to his new car, taking the fastest lap of 1:31.303 on lap 13 and finishing the race in twelfth place.
Lea Wood was certainly the man of the race as he took a brilliant seventh place finish in the aging Honda Integra in his return to the series.