Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO signed off the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on a high, securing its 7th Independent win of the year and a trio of top seven finishes during an action-packed season finale on the Brands Hatch GP circuit (September 30/October 1).
A promising start in changeable weather conditions during Saturday’s qualifying session sadly didn’t live up to expectations. After topping the timing screens for the opening minutes, Mat Jackson dropped down the order as the track dried out and lap times improved. Scotsman Rory Butcher was the highest placed Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO Ford in P12 with team-mates Mat Jackson and Martin Depper in P15 and P27 respectively.
Sunday’s opening race called for a gamble on tyre choice with Butcher selecting to run on wets whilst Jackson and Depper both opting to run on slicks. The opening laps looked to favour the Dunlop BluResponse wet tyre initially as the cars struggled with grip on the greasy track. However, the tables turned as the laps unfolded and the Sportsmaxx tyre came into favour and an epic charge through the field from Jackson saw the #3 Focus make its way up into P5 by the third tour of the circuit. Setting his sights on Austin’s Toyota, the 36-year-old timed his move perfectly to steal in P4 on the next lap. Unfortunately the gap to the lead pack was too great for Jackson to close in on, and he crossed the line in P4.
A slow start for Depper saw the #30 Focus struggle to make up places early on in the race, but the Midlands-based driver found his groove in the closing laps and battled his way through to take P21 at the flag. Running on the wet tyre, Butcher soon dropped off the pace against his competitors running on the the softer tyre and the 30 year-old did well to hold on to P24 in the #6 Focus.
An action-packed race two delivered plenty of drama for the Motorbase trio. Another masterclass performance from Jackson almost pulled off the fairy-tale ending as he moved past Sutton and Ingram to take P2. Closing in on Moffat as the pair duelled for the race lead, Jackson came under increasing pressure form the fast-charging Hondas and eventually had to concede two places to end the race in P4 – recording his 7th Independent win of the season.
A dramatic spin at Paddock Hill bend saw Depper exit the track at high speed on the opening lap. A great save by the eSpares-backed driver saved the #30 Focus from too much damage, but sadly relegated him to the back of the grid. He would eventually end the race in P27. Butcher had a move fruitful second outing managing to steer the #P6 Focus ST up three places to P21.
With an outsider’s mathematical chance of retaining the Independent Teams Title, the reverse grid draw saw Jackson slotted into P7 for the final race of the day. Seventeen points behind leaders Speedworks, the Motorbase-run squad needed to rely on a DNF from Ingram to stand a chance of the taking back the lead. A storming start off the line propelled the #3 Focus up to P4 on the opening lap before taking third from Indy challenger Ingram on lap 2. With the promise of a strong podium finish on the cards, Jackson was abruptly pushed onto the wet grass by Ingram, causing the Ford to swerve back onto the track where he made contact with title contender Turkington, who was unfortunately forced to retire from the race. Jackson managed to claw back a 7th place position as the field crossed the line, but sadly any faint hope of a title chance faded as the flag dropped on the 2017 season.
Running on slicks for the season finale, Butcher and Depper bided their time in the early stages of the race before a heroic performance from the duo saw the #6 and #30 Focus STs carve their way up the order. Setting the fastest lap of the race, Depper’s eventual P23 didn’t tell the full story of his outstanding drive and the Midlands-based driver was unlucky to have finished outside the points, having run as high as P14 at the mid-way point. Butcher scored his fourth points finish in four race meetings, with a heroic drive on slicks that was rewarded with a P12 finish.
After a challenging year, Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO ended the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 6th place overall in the Teams Championship and 3rd in the Independent Teams’ standings. Mat Jackson is the highest placed Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO driver, 8thplace in the Drivers’ Championship and 3rd in the Independent Drivers’ Trophy.
The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship gets underway with the official season launch on March 27th before the opening round of the year on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on April 7/8.