MG KX Momentum star Jason Plato thinks that lessons learned during a successful race weekend at Donington Park last weekend will help him and team-mate Sam Tordoff in their quest to land the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Three top eight finishes for Plato means that he sits on top of the chase for the UK’s most prestigious saloon car series and the highlight of his weekend was nailing a second placed finish in the second of Sunday’s three races, which was also his 400th in the category. Tordoff finished in the top six in all three of the events and narrowly missed out on his second career podium in the finale.
Plato came to the second race meeting of the season carrying the maximum of 45 kilogrammes of success ballast as a legacy of his victories in the season-opener at Brands Hatch at Easter. He says that the mandatory handicap reined in his initial pace.
“It was always going to be a tough ask going up against cars that didn’t have any extra weight, and that played against us at Donington Park,” said Plato. “And, when you are in those situations, it is about maximising opportunities. Finishing fourth in race one in those conditions was good but I was frustrated in race two, when I thought I had the pace to win. I climbed to third place but it just took me so long to get ahead of Gordon Shedden, who was driving the defensive race of his life. When I managed it, the leader was long gone.”
Plato showed all of his skill in the third race when he was confronted with a spun car in front of him at one of the fastest parts of the circuit. He took to the grass to avoid a collision, but it ruined his hopes of a win.
“I got the fright of my life when I was going down the Craner Curves at 120mph and there was a car sideways across the road – it’s not good for the heart rate!” he said. “Going on to the grass ruined my tyres and recovering to eighth meant I at least banked some points.”
Tordoff said he was delighted with the progress he is making with the MG6 and said that he has more understanding of the machine after three battling performances.
“I am disappointed that I didn’t get even better results, but that is a mark of how far I have come and how competitive I am,” he said. After finishing in sixth place in the opening two races, he was battling for third in the finale when a small slip on the last lap dropped him to fourth. “I was on the softer rubber, and we are learning about how to use that all the time. I was trying to manage the life of the rubber and I think we taught ourselves a lot, but we just ran out of grip at the end.
“However, when you look at the company I am racing in and the experience that the other guys have over me, I have to take many positives from three solid finishes yet again.”
Team principal Ian Harrison said he was delighted that both drivers took the most from the weekend that they could. He pointed out that regularly landing strong finishes will be crucial in the final points tally.
“It is good that we scored points in every race and that we finished every race,” said Harrison. “The last race was a bit unfortunate because Jason got caught up in someone else’s accident and managed to recover it. He was very lucky not to end up in the gravel at the Old Hairpin and it was only his skill that saved the result for us.
“Sam made just one small error in race three but it is all about learning for him. At the start of the Brands Hatch weekend at Easter he had a bucket of experience that was empty and now he has got a few things rattling around in it and being in the situation he was in race three is one of those things that he has now got the experience of. He will learn from that. He has been very consistent and we are delighted with the way he is driving. It is great that we have two cars out there that are both capable of running at the front.”
2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship
After six of 30 rounds
|1||Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum MG6)||92|
|2||Andrew Jordan (Honda Civic)||87|
|3||Matt Neal (Honda Civic)||78|
|4||Sam Tordoff (MG KX Momentum MG6)||73|
|5||Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic)||72|
|6||Adam Morgan (Toyota Avensis)||66|
The next rounds of the championship take place at Thruxton in Hampshire on May 4/5.