Gordon Shedden has won the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a race to spare after finishing second in the penultimate race of the day at Brands Hatch.
The Scot, who has won more races than any other driver this season, cannot be caught heading into the final race of the day after a fastest lap and 17 points for second put his points tally to an unassailable 293.
Aron Smith took his maiden BTCC win in torrid conditions after leading the race from almost the first restart, capping a superb run of form in his debut season since the summer break.
Outgoing champion Matt Neal, who won the opening race of the day, joined his teammate on the podium in third, but Jason Plato is now third in the standings after managing only fifth.
Neal got off the line well but Onslow-Cole was quick to assume the lead in the BMW, while Jordan repeated his race one getaway with a lot of wheelspin, allowing Shedden and Smith through, the latter also passing Neal to take second.
Further back, Rob Austin was another beneficiary at the start, up to ninth, but his teammate Will Bratt was not so lucky – involved in the second corner incident which brought out a very early safety car.
As the pack tip-toed through Druids, Rob Collard was sent spinning after being tapped by Shedden, who in turn was hit from behind by Plato. The BMW was a sitting duck and was collected by Bratt’s Audi, both races ending there and then, while Adam Morgan was also delayed in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.
But no sooner had the safety car left the track was it required again.
At the restart, Onslow-Cole was immediately under pressure from the determined Smith, and the Irishman wrested the lead from the BMW driver on the exit of Druids – and then it all kicked off behind.
First, Andy Neate, Nick Foster and Dan Welch were involved in a collision at Paddock, the MG tagging the BMW into the Proton, sending Welch off into the gravel and out the race. Then, on the exit of Druids, Dave Newsham and Plato came together, the MG turning the Vectra round on the run to Graham Hill Bend and spitting it off into the tyres hard and backwards, ending his race.
With no additional laps, only half the race remained when Smith led the field over the line for the second restart.
At two-thirds distance, Onslow-Cole released Shedden after running wide at Surtees, dropping down to 14th. And immediately, the Honda responded, setting the new fastest lap as he sought to catch the Focus in front. Meanwhile Onslow-Cole’s race got a lot worse at the same corner a lap later. Neate ran wide at Graham Hill Bend and tagged the recovering Morgan as he rejoined the track, turfing the Toyota into the barriers hard. As the Avensis rolled across the circuit, Williamson spun as he tried to avoid a collision – but straight into the path of the BMW, and they pirouetted onto the grass at Surtees with significant damage.
However, with no safety car required, Smith continued at the front – and though Shedden had the gap down to as little as 0.9s at one point, it appeared the Scot had settled for second in the knowledge he would be crowned champion, with Plato two seconds behind Jordan and not threatening to improve on fifth.
Shedden had assumed control of the title fight when Neal moved aside on the exit of Clearways, control he never looked like losing, taking a very popular maiden championship – while the popular Smith’s win was similarly well-received.
Behind, Jordan’s fourth place finish – coupled with Collard’s retirement – landed him the prestigious Independent’s title, also with a race to spare.