Jason Plato romped to victory in the final Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the 2015 season, but it was not enough as Gordon Shedden surged from 19th to to win a second BTCC title at Brands Hatch GP.
The Scot looked to have an uphill battle ahead of him after a disastrous second race of the day in Kent, but the Honda Yuasa Racing driver survived a trio of safety car interruptions to clinch his second BTCC crown in a tense finale.
Matt Neal was given the task to aid his team-mate and looked to have made the perfect start from pole position, but the triple BTCC champion entered too hot into Paddock Hill Bend and allowed his great rival through into the lead of the race.
The opening lap ended under safety car conditions, after Druids corner saw two incidents that eliminated both Tom Ingram‘s Speedworks Toyota Avensis and Jake Hill‘s AmD Tuning Audi S3.
A restart lasted merely half a lap as Plato built up an instant gap, one that was diminished by the appearance again of the safety car to remove Stewart Lines‘ Houseman Racing Toyota Avensis.
Shedden’s early progress only saw him gain three spots by the end of lap one, aided by Team BMR‘s Alain Menu being forced to pit because of a puncture ahead of him.
Neal was mugged on the second restart of the race, running deep at Clearways which allowed the Triple Eight MG of Jack Goff through into second and Mat Jackson‘s Motorbase Ford Focus also up to third at Druids.
History repeated itself unbelievably for a third time, as only one lap passed before Dave Newsham spun his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze into the gravel at Druids.
The remainder of the race was thankfully uninterrupted, Shedden beginning his charge which started by overtaking Jeff Smith‘s Honda and Sam Tordoff‘s BMW on the restart lap.
Andrew Jordan and Andy Priaulx were also swiftly dispatched within the next lap of the race, Shedden then raising the stakes even higher with a bold cutback move on Aron Smith at the exit of Clearways on lap 11 before out-braking Rob Collard‘s West Surrey Racing BMW at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 12.
Jackson and Goff then provided the entertainment for second spot as the Ford driver attempted to round Goff’s MG at Hawthorn, running out of grip on the outside which allowed the Honda of Neal through into third spot. The fight intensified when Neal lunged inside Goff at Paddock Hill Bend, Jackson stealing second while further three abreast contact at Druids saw Neal emerge third from Goff and Morgan.
Behind them, Shedden on lap 15 made the vital move at Paddock Hill Bend for fifth, coming on the Mercedes of Morgan to rapturous applause in the Honda garage.
Up front, Plato was untroubled on the way to a sixth victory of the season, but it was not to be enough for the Volkswagen CC driver as Shedden’s fourth place was enough to seal the 2015 crown by four points.
Jackson added second place to his brace of victories, while Neal moved aside to let Goff and team-mate Shedden by on the penultimate lap. Drama almost ensued again, Goff grimly defending his podium place from the Scot, Neal fifth ahead of Morgan, Collard, Jordan, Aron Smith and Priaulx.