Shedden wins Race Three after Incident-Laden Oulton Park Finale

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

Josh Cook won the race three pole lottery and started at the front in his  Maximum motorsport Ford Focus. In 7th, Mat Jackson was encountering an overheating issue on the way to the grid, but would start the race as Motorbase looked to finish off the weekend strongly. 

At the start, Andrew Jordan once again had an excellent start and lead into the first corner, with Josh Cook 2nd, with the Honda Yuasa duo 3rd and 4th. Mat Jackson’s issues continued and he was out of the race at the start of the first lap.

On lap 2, Jordan, Cook and Shedden were starting to break away, but the battle between the latter two was giving Jordan ahead an early gap. Race 2 winner Ash Sutton was keeping Mat Neal in check for 4th and at the start of lap 3, the intense battle for 2nd was allowing the battle for 6th to follow closely, it was becoming a four-way scrap for 2nd.

Contact from Shedden on the rear of Cook was causing the left-rear of the bumper to rub against the tyre, and his rear suspension was ultimately destroyed on the following lap, when the chasing Honda driver took another fairly aggressive bite. It ruined Cook’s prospects of finishing on the podium and he was clearly annoyed after the race. There was evident damage to the front of Gordon Shedden’s Honda. The point is, Touring car drivers are allowed to be angry after an incident like this, but it was just an unfortunate racing incident. The reason the racing is so close and intense in this series is because the stewards rarely pass judgement. At first it looked like Shedden’s fault, but there were a few direction changes from the Ford ahead. Neither were in the wrong, it was just unfortunate that one of them had to retire.

Aron Taylor-Smith pulled a move on Jake hill for 10th early on, giving the MG some air time after a fairly anonymous weekend so far. The top six after six laps was Jordan, Shedden, Neal, Sutton, Collard and Austin.

The fight for 7th was very intense between Mike Epss, Jason plato and Turkington. The Subaru driver was lining up Epps ahead, for Turkington to pull off a sneaky move for 8th.Tom Ingram was climbing the order, desperate for some points at Oulton Park, he was up to 23rd by lap seven having gained seven places.

On the next lap, Turkington broke into 6th after better traction out of the final corner saw off Rob Austin on the finish straight. At the front, Shedden was eating into Jordan’s lead, the gap reduced to a second. Aiden Moffat had suffered a big shunt, his car stationary on the circuit, which brought out the safety car and tightened the grid up with six laps remaining.

The damage sustained at Moffat’s crash site looked substantial, so there was fear that the race could have finished under safety car or with a three lap dash. But the marshals at Oulton Park did a solid job of repairing the tyre wall and removing the stricken Mercedes.

On the restart, Turkington looked to have the biggest advantage in 6th as he was without success ballast. Turkington was already past Collard on lap 14, and started to challenge Sutton for 4th. The trio at the front was even closer, with Jordan having to defend from Gordon Shedden, who could focus on attack with Neal in 3rd.

On lap 15, Shedden broke into the lead heading down the hill, and Matt Neal followed to claim 2nd by just getting ahead before the hairpin due to Jordan’s loss of momentum. It’s worth noting that Sutton was pulling off an ultimate masterclass in defence. With 75kg of success ballast, he was holding his own against a ballast-free Colin Turkington. If he could pull this off with a few laps remaining, it would almost match the accolade of victory in the previous race.  Further back in the top ten, Jason Plato was enjoying his best race of the season, challenging Epps for 8th. The Volkswagen driver was having to race with both eyes in the mirrors.

On the final lap, Sutton’s defence was starting to bring Rob Collard back into play. He was starting to hassle Turkington for 5th. It was very stable in the top three and looked to be a Honda Yuasa one-two, with Jordan 3rd. Ash Sutton held onto 4th, with Turkington 5th and Collard 6th. Rob Austin was a second behind for 7th, with Mike Epps 8th, Jake Hill 9th and Luke Davenport finishing well with 10th. Jason Plato was again 11th.

In terms of the Championship, the race 3 victory firmly projected Shedden into a healthy lead with 157 points. Rob Collards consistency was paying off, he was 2nd overall on 141 points. Tom Ingram was 3rd after entering the weekend as the Championship leader. After a nightmare weekend, he was 3rd on 132 points, 25 points away from Shedden at the summit. Turkington finds himself in 4th, edging Matt Neal by 2 points. Ash Sutton’s strong weekend has propelled him up the order, he’s now 6th and only 45 points shy of Shedden’s tally. More weekends like this could see the Subaru driver find a bit of title contention.