Mixed conditions for the latest rounds of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship hampered the title charge of the MG KX Momentum team at Croft circuit in North Yorkshire at the weekend.
Both Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff took a gamble on the notoriously fickle British weather as they tried to outsmart the opposition at Croft before the conditions changed and ruined their plans.
Plato had finished in fifth place in the opening race of the weekend in a car that was struggling with understeer, but said he was hoping for a big improvement in race two. A serious rain shower just before the start had all the drivers in a quandary.
Plato explained: “We had checked the weather pretty closely, and we were certain that there was a huge rain shower coming and it would get worse. We opted for wet weather tyres to begin the race and then, typically, the wind changed ever so slightly and the storm clouds that were due to drench the track moved to the east of the circuit by a fraction.”
That meant that Plato was stranded on the track on wet tyres on a drying track and he was powerless to halt his slide down the order. The heavens finally did open for the third race of the weekend and Plato produced a barnstorming drive from 20th to sixth place in the horrendous conditions.
“That gave me some huge satisfaction, because we had a tough time in the wet races last season so we have certainly got that monkey from our back,” he explained. “Now we are confident that we have a car that works in all conditions, as long as we can predict them correctly…!”
Tordoff was in a similar position to Plato. Losing track time at the start of the weekend when a driveshaft failed also compromised him ahead of his first races in a touring car on the 2.25-mile circuit. He claimed a battling seventh place in the opening race before opting for the wet tyres, like his team-mate, in race two.
Race three was a chance for redemption as he powered through the pack on the bootlid of Plato, and Tordoff seared into the top seven as the race drew to a close. He also set the fastest lap on the way up the order.
“I have learned a lot over the course of the weekend, but we could never really recover the ground we lost at the start of the meeting,” he said. “I didn’t have enough time to learn the track and we lost a lot of time when they cancelled a free practice session due to an accident. I wasn’t able to run through the programme I wanted to.
“Nevertheless, I was pleased with the learning I did in race three because I had never really raced a BTCC car in the wet conditions like that,” he added. “It was another new experience – I seem to be having a lot of those this season – and it is a building block in my development as a racing driver and learning about the British Touring Car Championship.”
Plato retains third place in the race for this season’s title with Tordoff in sixth position.
Team principal Ian Harrison said that the squad would move forward from this meeting. He explained: “It hasn’t been our greatest weekend but the tyre choice we made in the second weekend was one based on the facts we had at the time and we were convinced it was the right way. We wouldn’t have done it otherwise.
“Our speed in the wet at the end of the meeting was encouraging and we managed to salvage points from it. That’s what you have to do in situations like that and we bounced back. We are now into a seven-week summer break, and we will continue to work hard to give the guys the best cars we possibly can.”
The next rounds of the British Touring Car Championship take place at Snetterton in Norfolk on August 4.
British Touring Car Championship
After 15/30 rounds
|1||Matt Neal||Honda Civic||224|
|2||Andrew Jordan||Honda Civic||205|
|3||Jason Plato||MG KX Momentum MG6||188|
|4||Gordon Shedden||Honda Civic||188|
|5||Colin Turkington||BMW 125i M Sport||184|
|6||Sam Tordoff||MG KX Momentum MG6||148|