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Gordon Shedden: ‘The safety of drivers is the number one priority’

Gordon Shedden says the safety of drivers ‘is the number one priority’ after the Scot emerged unscathed in a huge first lap pile up in the first FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race on the streets of Vila Real.

Shedden started from 18th on the grid for the first race, which proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Audi driver as he was able to avoid the worst of the carnage ahead.

The accident was triggered when Sébastien Loeb Racing duo Rob Huff and Mehdi Benanni made contact whilst battling for the lead, leaving the first cars on the scene in the chasing pack with nowhere to go.

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Shedden’s Leopard Lukoil car was relatively unscathed in the melee, leaving the Scot likely to make the restarted race at 18:30 BST (19:30 CEST).

“Obviously the accident was massive – it’s the biggest accident we’ve seen,” said Shedden. “Ultimately as drivers we’re all here to compete against each other and compete hard, but the safety of drivers is the number one priority.

“When you see people struggling or they’re trapped or there’s fire and big damage then everybody has the same motive of just trying to help the drivers and all competition goes out of the window.

“There’s some badly damaged cars up there and some beaten up drivers as well, but all are up and about from what I have seen which is obviously the most important thing. There’s a lot of damage.”

Shedden puts the crash down to being a part of racing and he doesn’t feel it will make his rivals think twice about taking the restart.

“I think it’s fine, as long as they repair the barrier everyone will go again. It’s one of those things – you’ve got 26 of the most competitive drivers, teams and cars in the world for a World Cup, and tensions run high and nobody wants to give an inch. On a street circuit it’s bitten a little bit.

“Unfortunately, when it goes wrong even in a small way it tends to escalate how it looks just because everything is so contained.

“But first and foremost, Rob and Mehdi are OK. They look like they took the worst of it. If the track is safe and the barriers are fixed, then I’m sure everyone else will go racing.”

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