24 year-old Andrew Jordan won himself a first British Touring Car Championship yesterday. Some achievement when you know that to do so, he had to fend of four previous champions, all of whom arrived at Brands Hatch determined to win themselves another.
One in particular, Jason Plato, looked especially determined to do so. And he needed to be. Plato was the furthest behind Jordan of the four and needed the greatest possible share of the 67 points available across the three races on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. By comparison Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Colin Turkington’s jobs were easier. But everyone needed Jordan, 2013’s Mr Consistent to choke on his big day…
Qualifying his MG6 fastest on Saturday (one point in the bag), Plato dominated the first race, holding of teammate Sam Tordoff at the start and second-placed man Shedden across a race that was broken up by a safety car. Twenty-one more points in the bag for Plato. Could he keep this up in race two? The MG6 was supposed to be a nightmare in the wet, the Civic a dreamboat and there was no sign of rain easing. In race one Matt Neal’s Civic came back from a poor qualifying (he was racing with a broken finger) to finish sixth, just behind Jordan’s Honda keeping himself in the fight. Colin Turkingon has spent a lot of his comeback year in the new BMW 125i being tipped in to spins, just not usually by his teammate. So it wasn’t a great way to end a title campaign on the first lap on the first race. Going in to race two then, there were just four drivers in it.
And there was no stopping Jason Plato as he went on to take his eighth win of 2013, and the 82nd of his career in the lunchtime race. And if another huge haul of points wasn’t enough to keep the tension running all the way through the five o’clock finale, all Plato’s rivals suffered bad luck in race two; Shedden had a monumental tank slapper on lap one that sent him skittering down the order; Jordan came together with Neal on lap two and logged his first retirement of the season; and Neal, quite possibly as a result of the contact, suffered a fire on the final lap and didn’t score. Three drivers in it for the final race…
Race three then, and Plato was just 15 points behind Jordan in the standings. Even better, the reverse gird draw meant Jordan would start at the very back (Plato was in the middle of the pack). Staring on pole however was Gordon Shedden, who knew he had to win to keep his chances alive, and win he did, despite being chased across the entire 15 laps by Jack Goff’s Vauxhall Insignia looking for its first win in the series. Sadly, knobbled with ballast, Plato could only fall back to ninth and then, eventually tenth as Andrew Jordan made the move that made absolutely certain Shedden’s win, the last of the BTCC’s 30 races of 2013 would not be enough.
There was, and is, massive goodwill towards Jordan and his family-run team. They’ve come out on top of a extraordinarily dramatic 2013 BTCC season, one that will be joined by Renault and Mercedes in 2014. It isn’t going to get any less tight next year.