Gordon Shedden hailed an “incredible” 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title victory, offering a sporting congratulations to season-long rival, Sam Tordoff.
The Scot became the first driver to successfully defend his title since Fabrizio Giovanardi back in 2008, sealing it by overturning an 11-point deficit to West Surrey Racing‘s Tordoff in the final three races of the season at Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Results of fifth and two third place finishes were enough for Shedden to defend his crown, meaning he would tie Andy Rouse should he go on to collect a record fourth title in the future.
Recovering from a brief seventh place on the road in race three, Shedden hunted down his rivals before making a crucial cutback stick on title protagonist Tordoff at Clearways on lap seven, winning the title by two points from the West Surrey Racing man.
Speaking after collecting the spoils, Shedden said: “There has to be an easier way to do it! This weekend Sam’s driven well but I just knew if I chipped away I’d have half a chance.
“The car was mint in the last race. I’ve tried to race forward all day and all year. I’ve made moves, I’ve stuck my neck on the line and I needed every single one of those points in the end.
“When I passed Sam I knew exactly what I was going to do. He was sliding around a bit, so I thought ‘keep it steady, keep it smooth and we’ll be OK’. Then Adam Morgan had good pace, and I thought I could do without him getting involved!”
Adding to his title wins in both 2012 and 2015, Shedden said that a recovery from over 50 points behind after the meeting at Croft made his most recent triumph a very special achievement.
“It’s just unbelievable and it’s an incredible feeling to do back-to-back titles”, added the Scot.
“After Croft I don’t think anyone would have put a fiver on me winning the championship this year. We clawed it back and kept to task. I’ve made some heart in mouth moves this year and I’ve needed every one.”
The season was fought out in a highly sporting manner, as shown by the congratulations offered by Tordoff to the 2016 champion before the official championship presentation.
Shedden offered his words of praise to his main rival, insisting Tordoff could be a champion of the near future.
“Sam’s driven well all year – it’s hard to carry the 75kg and he’s carried it well. Even in the last race he was fair – it was good racing, and we’ve had clean racing with him all year,” said Shedden.
“His time will come. It won’t be far away, without any shadow of a doubt. He will probably go away from here tonight happy with what he’s done this year. He’ll have probably learnt some stuff as well for when he gets in this position again.”
Focus shifts immediately to the winter season, Shedden insisting that Halfords Yuasa Racing will evaluate several options on the table ahead of the 2017 season.
“A lot can happen over the winter. We will see what we can do – we will need to take more steps forward. We’ll figure it all out, but we will have to go forward.”
How does a champion celebrate winning their third major title though you may ask? Shedden joked: “A few cups of tea and a Tunnock’s caramel wafer, obviously!”.