After coming out on top of an eight-way fight to win his third BTCC title in 2016, Gordon Shedden can justifiably lay claim to a place among the true greats of touring car racing. The 37-year-old has more championships to his name than Alain Menu, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Jason Plato or Yvan Muller, but proved there are plenty more strings to his bow with an impressive cameo British GT at Donington in 2011. Teaming up with Hector Lester for the three-hour race, the Scotsman known affectionately as ‘Flash’ came home sixth on the very first outing for Rosso Verde’s Ferrari 458 GT3. Shedden takes up the story.
I hadn’t done British GT before, but I had done the Spa 24 Hours in 2008 with CR Scuderia. I was in the Ferrari F430 GT2 with Andrea Piccini, Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos, who owned the team – it was really good fun and in the end, we finished fourth in class.
The British GT deal came about through John Buchan, who ran the Roso Verde team. He’s from Edinburgh and I’d also known Hector Lester for a while because he’d come to Knockhill to do a few shakedowns. Hector used to normally share with Allan Simonsen and he wasn’t available that weekend because he was away racing in the Le Mans Series at Estoril, so I got the call to see if I fancied having a go. That ended up being the first time that the team had run the 458 – Hector wanted to run the car, it hadn’t had any testing, but we had good fun with it anyway.
Qualifying was a bit interesting – I remember it being really tricky conditions, there were some wet parts, some in-between parts and some dry parts, but when I got going, I was absolutely fine and we qualified 11th (ed: one place ahead of Alex Buncombe and Nick Catsburg’s JRM Nissan GT-R GT3, making only its second competition appearance).
Hector had a little bit of an off in the first stint which put us a lap down after ten minutes. After he got it restarted, for the remaining two hours 45 of the three hours, we were on the pace and I ended up having loads of battles because we were out of position. I do remember running for the last 45 minutes just in front of Matt Griffin and he couldn’t get close enough to pass. We’d had some radio problems because it was all a bit last minute.com getting everything sorted out for the weekend, but we were able to run at the pace of a Ferrari factory driver, so that was a nice little start to GT racing.
It ended up being a lovely night with the sunset, although you sit a little bit higher in the GT car than you do in the touring car, so it was okay. The 458 was just lovely to drive – lots of power, the paddle shifts, the traction control, ABS, everything was great. Where I sometimes describe the touring car as being right up on its tip-toes and dancing about, the GT car was a very different experience to drive in terms of how it actually goes around the track. It’s a lot more sure-footed with lots of aero, massive rear-wing and huge tyres. It was mega to drive, I really did enjoy it and I’ve got a smile on my face just thinking about it!
I enjoy racing all sorts whether it’s the touring cars, the historic stuff I’m doing at Goodwood and various other bits and bobs, but ultimately touring cars are only ten weekends of my year, so it would be great to jump in and do a bit more, wherever in the world that could end up being. It would be great to go back to Spa and actually I had spoken a little bit to Alasdair McCaig and the guys at Ecurie Ecosse about this year if they were going to do it, but it ended up clashing with Snetterton in the touring cars and they ended up not doing it anyway.
But still the conversations keep on happening about trying to make something work. This year, it was a real shame because I think there was only one British GT round that clashed with BTCC in the whole championship. Just think, how good would it be if no rounds clashed? Then you’d get a lot more transfer of drivers, probably in both directions!