Shedden fired-up for world bid with Audi 06 | 04 | 2018

    A FAMILIAR FACE will be missing from the British Touring Car Championship paddock at this weekend’s traditional season-opener at Brands Hatch. Three-time champ Gordon Shedden won’t be there. Instead, the 38-year-old from Auchterarder will be in Marrakech, starting his bid to become a world champion. (Related: Shedden switches to WTCR with Audi)

    In January, just days after appearing on the main stage at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, where he spoke about his plans to add a fourth BTCC title this year, Shedden stunned the sport by announcing he was walking away from the series which had been his home for 11 years.

    Harder still, the Scot was leaving Team Dynamics, the team with which he and team-mate Matt Neal had been such a force in the sport, alongside their partnership with Honda. (Related: Shedden reflects on triple BTCC title)

    Unbeknown to those outside his tight, inner circle, Shedden had been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to drive a brand spanking new Audi RS3 LMS in the new 10-round World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).


    For the Scot, who made a dazzling one-off appearance in the final round of the TCR International Series in Dubai last year — when he qualified his VW Golf GTi on pole, and finished second in the opening race — it was a difficult decision. But one which could only have one conclusion. (Related: Roadtest — Audi RS4 Avant)

    “The switch to WTCR was quite unexpected, but came at a perfect time in my career,” Shedden explained this week before heading to the season-opener in Morocco. “It was also flattering that Audi came knocking at my door.”

    What was also crucial in sealing his decision to leave Honda and Team Dynamics, was being granted full Audi Sport driver status.


    “That was a pivotal part of the deal,” Shedden, who as part of the deal has the use of a stunning new Audi RS4 Avant, continued. “Leaving Team Dynamics was a heart wrench. There’s no other way to put it. I was leaving what had been my home for more than a decade to step into the complete unknown.

    “But let’s be honest: when Audi come calling, seriously, you don’t walk away from it. You stop and listen to what’s being offered.


    “It all came together pretty quickly, pretty late, around the time of the Autosport Show. I put my cards on the table with Matt; told him exactly what it was I was being offered, and he was like: ‘Mate, go for it. We’ll do everything we can to support you. You’ll always have a home at Dynamics. You can always come back if you don’t like it, or whatever. But for now: go and give them hell.’

    “And Matt admitted if he’d been given the same opportunity, he’d have taken it as well. So that certainly made things easier.”


    What hasn’t been easy is pre-season testing in his new car getting to grips with the RS3 LMS. Not that there’s been any problem with the Audi: far from it. No: the problem’s been with the weather.

    “We did a couple of days down in Spain, but we ended up having snow on the last day,” Shedden laughed. “Then we went to Zandvoort and it was much the same; shitty wet weather on the first day.

    “But thankfully it dried up on the second day and we learned a lot there. Then we spent time at the Nordschliefe, where we did a few laps, then to Barcelona for the final test at the WTCR media day.”


    And Shedden, who remains a pivotal part of the management team at Knockhill, where wife Jillian is managing director, will certainly experience a whole raft of new tracks this season. The series visits China, Japan, Argentina, and Portugal, amongst others, finally finishing in Macau.

    “It’s going to be tough, learning all the new circuits, but I didn’t know the track at Dubai, and that worked out ok,” Shedden stated.


    “Ultimately, any new track should just be another series of right-handers and left-handers. Essentially that’s what all tracks comprise of. Just get your head round it and get on with it.”

    Sounds simple. Well, certainly for a professional racing driver. Having conquered the BTCC three times, WTCR is a major step-up. But it’s one Shedden is relishing.

    “I’ve always said throughout my career that I want to challenge myself against the best. I want to race against champions,” Shedden continued. “That’s what gives you the satisfaction if you can deliver against them on the highest field.


    “I’m firmly focused on the future, and delivering for Audi and my new team, WRT. They know what they’re doing with Audis, so we have a brilliant package to start the season with.

    “How important would it be for me to become a world champion? It would be absolutely phenomenal. It’s the next box I want to tick.

    “Is the the world title a realistic goal? Yeh, absolutely. We wouldn’t be entering the championship if we didn’t think it was.”

    Related: How Gordon Shedden won third BTCC title

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    Jim McGill


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