Shedden takes first world win with Audi 07 | 10 | 2018

    SCOTS AUDI ACE GORDON SHEDDEN produced his best weekend of his 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup season to-date. The 39-year-old from Auchterarder took his first career WTCR podium, pole position and race victory at the Wuhan street circuit in China, amassing the most points of any driver, 52, the same as his race number.
 (Related: Shedden delivers on brutal Nordschleife)

    The three-time British Touring Car champion worked hard with the Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team in the days before the race after a tough meeting last week at the Chinese Ningbo circuit. Things looked much better right from the off at Wuhan, with the Audi Sport customer racing RS 3 LMS right at the top of the time sheets throughout Friday practice.
 (Related: Shedden fired-up for world bid with Audi)

    Heading into Saturday’s qualifying session, things looked promising with all the Audis on form, but some traffic in the session meant Shedden failed to get a perfect run and qualified fifth, despite being a mere 0.143 seconds behind the pole-sitter.


    Shedden-China-2.jpg

    A great start saw Shedden up to fourth, and battling with Yann Ehrlacher’s Honda for the first 12 laps of the race, eventually making his move at Turn 1 for the final step on the podium.
Another qualifying session and two races on Sunday and things were about to get much better, as the Scotsman topped the second part of qualifying, earning him the final run on the one-lap shootout, where he secured his first WTCR career pole position ahead of three other Audis.


    The reversed grid race followed, and an accident on the first lap saw the car suffer steering damage through contact with an unknown assailant.
 The team managed to replace the entire steering rack in between races, allowing Shedden to take up pole position for the all-important Race 3.

    At the start, Shedden got away well but was knocked into a half-spin at the first corner by the rival Audi of Denis Dupont, but managed to control it and not only keep the car on track but in the lead.


    Shedden-China-3.jpg

    After a long safety car stoppage, the race resumed but Dupont was soon on the attack again, running into the tyre stack at the apex of Turn 10 which slammed into Shedden’s Audi, but it was still able to continue.


    Dupont dropped back and Shedden was then left to defend the lead against fellow Audi Sport driver and GT star Frédéric Vervisch, whom he managed to keep back until the finish to score a momentous first victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.

    “It’s been an absolutely epic weekend,” Shedden said. “The car’s just been transformed since last week. There’s a lot of work done by the team behind the scenes, and this is the first weekend where I feel like I’m part of the car, and it makes such a difference.

    Shedden-China-4.jpg

    “It’s been really good to have the team together, to go through everything, to actually sit down with everyone because we all jump to different parts of the world between races and this was been a real benefit.

    “It was almost a post-mortem after Ningbo but credit to the guys because we’ve had a car that feels alive, feels like I can drive and it’s great to be back competing rather than running around where we were.


    “The lap I did in Qualifying 2 this morning was electric; all the corners just came together, but to then go into the one-lap showdown, which I don’t’ have much experience of, and stick it on pole was fantastic.


    “In Race 2 I was just minding my own business, but then I think it was either Aurélien Panis or Kevin Ceccon that just arrived into the side of my car and broke the steering rack. I didn’t think we were going to make the grid, but the guys did an amazing job to get it back together for Race 3.


    Shedden-China-5.jpg

    “In Race 3, Denis Dupont hit me at Turn 1, and then not content with hitting me with his car, he hit me with a tyre stack! It was crazy, the sound in the car was just strange. It was one of those surreal moments where I thought ‘I haven’t hit the tyres, have I?’ and then all of the sudden I can see them bouncing, and then I figured out what had happened.


    “It’s been a brilliant weekend for me, and for the team, my first podium, pole and race win, thanks to Audi Sport, Leopard and Lukoil and WRT, hopefully this is just the start of a great run to the end of the season.”


    Related: Hamilton dominates Japan GP

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    Jim McGill

     

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