Honda Civic Tourer driver Gordon Shedden took an estate-bodied car to victory for the first time in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park today.
Shedden won the third race of the day in the still-developing machine, but the pace of the factory MG 6s was the other major talking point of the weekend, with team-mates Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff grabbing a win apiece.
On Saturday Plato obliterated the East Midland circuit?s BTCC lap record on his way to his first pole position of the season. Shedden joined him on the front row in the works Honda Civic Tourer ? the first time an estate-bodied car had qualified on the front row in the domestic tin-top series.
Plato made a good start and seized the lead into the first corner, while the fast-starting BMW 125i M Sport of Colin Turkington slotted into second. He didn?t hold that position for long, however, struggling for pace in the cold, damp conditions and ceding positions to the MG of Sam Tordoff and Shedden, who had been slow away.
Turkington began to find front-running pace by mid-distance as he got back by Shedden, but his eBay Motors team-mate Rob Collard was on a charge. From 13th on the grid, Collard moved up to fifth position by lap seven by deposing Shedden and then latched onto the podium battle between Turkington and reigning champion Andrew Jordan.
Honda Civic driver Jordan sliced past Turkington at Redgate for third and Collard also slipped ahead of the Ulsterman shortly after. Shedden retained sixth until the end, while former champions Fabrizio Giovanardi (Airwaves Racing Ford Focus) and Matt Neal came home in seventh and eighth in their Ford Focus and Honda Civic Tourer respectively.
With Plato taking a full 45kgs of success ballast aboard his MG for the second race, Tordoff was able to make a brighter start and moved ahead of the pole man into Redgate on the opening lap. Tordoff, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday, kept cool through several safety car periods to lead home Plato and collect his second BTCC race win.
Behind the dominant MGs, Jordan and Shedden scrapped over the final spot on the podium. The battle went Shedden?s way when Jordan ran wide at the exit of Old Hairpin and lost ground. Neal almost capitalised on Jordan?s mistake, but had to be content with fifth ahead of Turkington.
Drier conditions prevailed for race three, and Turkington started from pole position after the top six positions from race two were reversed for the grid.
The safety car made an early appearance as a wild moment from champion Jordan at Redgate resulted in several separate incidents at the tail-end of the field.
As the race resumed Plato pulled a great move into Redgate to slice inside Neal for second place. But Plato was unable to pull clear in his heavily ballasted MG, and had to mount a stout defence from Neal, Mat Jackson, Tordoff and Shedden.
Tordoff slowed as he struggled with excessive wear on the soft tyre compound, and Neal and Shedden broke clear of Jackson in third and fourth. Shedden cut ahead of Plato at the chicane on lap 12, while two laps later Neal and Jackson also demoted the MG man, who was also enduring tyre issues.
Up at the front, Shedden charged after Turkington, chewing huge lumps out of the BMW?s comfortable lead and latching onto his tail at the start of the final lap.
Turkington defended strongly, but Shedden swept to the outside line into the chicane for the final lap. As they tried to outbrake each other, neither man could make the corner on the track, both bumping across the gravel trap with Shedden emerging just ahead and winning the frantic dash to the chequered flag.
The results at Donington Park mean that Jordan and Plato top the standings with 87 points each, with Shedden one point behind, Turkington on 84 points and Neal on 79 points.
The next Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship event takes place at Thruxton on 3-4 May.
At the Beijing motor show today Peugeot's boss Maxine Picat told us in no uncertain terms that he has no plans to turn his company into a luxury brand. Not even in China.
"We are not BMW or Mercedes," he said. "We want to be first of the generalists."
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you even get the chance to see the Peugeot Exalt concept in the metal. Especially if you contrast it with the BMW luxury saloon concept also on display at today's Chinese motor show.
What is the difference in quality, intent, or desirability I was wondering. By the way, I don't dislike the BMW at all ? it shows the next 7-series will look smart. But the point is that they seem similar ? in fact, I was more impressed by the Peugeot if anything.
Then again, Picat's level of ambition is entirely correct. But it does prove how the 'mainstream' makers could catch up. And how much harder prestige brands may have to work in the future to keep them at bay.
Aston Martin has showcased its new 'Q by Aston Martin' bespoke personalisation scheme at the Beijing motor show.
The bespoke service allows customers to tailor their vehicles to their tastes by picking from a range of colours, trim finishes, materials and other cosmetic options.
A new 'Q Lounge Concept' is also being previewed, the aim being to allow customers to better visualise their personal creations. These lounges will later be offered in selected worldwide dealerships.
The Q by Aston Martin scheme even allows customers to commission one-off cars, such as the CC100 Speedster Concept.
General Manager of VIP and Q by Aston Martin Sales, Matthew Bennett, said: "What Q by Aston Martin adds to that already exciting process is the freedom to think beyond spec sheets and options lists.
"It challenges the designers and engineers here at Gaydon to use their talents to produce something truly exceptional, and unique."
A customised Aston Martin Rapide S and a Vanquish were used to show what is possible on the Q scheme, with each featuring special finishes and interior trims.
Other show highlights included the Chinese debut of the Vanquish Volante, a 'Carbon' special edition of the DB9 and the V8 Vantage N430.
The new models and Q scheme should serve to further improve Aston's sales in China, where has seen growing sales since the brand launched in the country in 2008.
Jenny Zheng, Aston Martin?s China Regional Director, said: ?A confident expansion of the dealer network is continuing here in China.
"In the last few weeks alone we've had the grand openings of the Aston Martin Xi?an and Aston Martin Qingdao dealerships, and the addition of an impressive new downtown showroom for the important Beijing market.?
Read more Beijing motor show news.
Peugeot has turned its 308 hatchback into a saloon and created the new Peugeot 408.
The new 408 is destined for sale in China and emerging markets including Russia as a rival to the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Lavida.
Indeed, each of China?s 10 best-selling models last month was a compact saloon car, showing the importance of models like the 408 if Peugeot is to increase sales.
The 408 shares its styling with the 308 at the front and is new from the B-pillars back.
Peugeot hasn?t confirmed specifics on the new model, but it?s understood to have a slightly longer wheelbase on the 308 on which it is based to increase rear legroom.
The staple powerplant is set to be Peugeot?s 1.6 THP petrol unit in various different power outputs in China, with a diesel engine set to be added to the line-up in Russia.
Read more Beijing motor show news.
Lewis Hamilton has recorded a hat-trick of Formula 1 race wins for the first time in his career after an imperious performance in China today.
The Mercedes driver annexed pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit and after seizing an early lead in the race he simply drove away from the pack in the early stages and was never challenged. He added to his victories in Malaysia and Bahrain.
Hamilton's only scare happened when he ran wide near the end of his first stint on worn tyres, although he quickly recovered.
"The left front was graining quite badly and eventually the tyre was completely dead. Fortunately there was quite a lot of run-off area at that corner," said Hamilton after the race.
The 2008 world champion was also slightly confused by the erroneous appearance of the chequered flag one lap ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, he crossed the line for the 25th victory of his Formula 1 career, to add to the 34th pole position he collected on Saturday.
His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg battled to second position after a difficult race weekend. He qualified fourth, and was hampered during the race due to a problem with his car's telemetry, meaning he was unable to communicate properly with his pit crew.
The German also came into contact with the Williams of Valterri Bottas at the first turn of the race, but he battled hard to overhaul Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and secure his fourth consecutive podium finish of the season.
Rosberg's fight back to second place in the results ensured he maintains a slender lead over team-mate Hamilton in the world championship standings, although the gap is now a slender four points.
Alonso brought some cheer to Ferrari with the Italian team's first podium of the season. It was Maranello's first race with new team chief Marco Mattiacci in charge following the departure of Stefano Domenicali.
Despite heavy contact with former team-mate Felipe Massa at the first corner, Alonso was a podium threat throughout the race and although he was unable to hold back to charge of Rosberg, he fended off the looming Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the race.
Australian racer Ricciardo again outshone Red Bull Racing's team leader Sebastian Vettel, out-qualifing the world champion on Saturday and out-racing him on Sunday despite the German's best efforts to keep his young rival at bay.
Chinese Grand Prix, round 4/19, 20 April 2014
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
6 Nico Hülkenberg (Force India)
7 Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
8 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
9 Sergio Perez (Force India)
10 Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)