Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: BTCC Media Office
Jason Plato and the Triple Eight Race Engineering-run MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GT scored what ITV4’s new Race Commentator, Toby Moody, described as an ‘unbelievable’ win in the third British Touring Car Championship round at Brands Hatch this afternoon and, as a result, head into the next BTCC Meeting at Donington Park in two weeks with the lead in the Championship.
Plato had, in fact, just been pipped to a podium in Round One by Tom Onslow-Cole’s eBay Motors BMW 320si and led a lap in Round Two before finishing third – under the BTCC’s new for 2012 point-scoring format of: 1st – 20 points; 2nd – 17; 3rd – 15; 4th – 13; 5th – 11; 6th – 10; 7th – 9; 8th – 8; 9th – 7; 10th – 6; 11th – 5; 12th – 4; 13th – 3; 14th – 2; 15th – 1, he now has 52 points to works Honda Yuasa Racing (and 2011 BTCC Champion) Matt Neal’s 48 points and Pirtek Racing’s, Honda Civic-driving Andy Jordan’s 45 points.
Andy Neate, in the second MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GT, finished twelfth in Round One and fourteenth in Rounds Two and Three – hardly surprising given that his car had only been finished at 5.30am on Saturday morning!
MG KX Momentum Racing and Plato were clearly developing the car during the weekend – the rear end of the car had looked decidedly unstable in Saturday’s Qualifying en route to a P4 on the grid which owed more to the driver’s ability than the car – and, when interviewed by ITV4’s Louise Goodman after his victory, Plato said that the car was ‘now a completely different machine – we’ve made some changes since the last run… I had a fantastic racecar there. We’ve got to make [the car] a little bit easier for me and more progressive, more friendly, but I think that’s a pretty severe message for the pitlane: we’re coming to get the [Championship] trophy… My tail is in the air now! We’ve got a test this week and [will] try some different throttle maps [and] boost mapping as well as work our way round the car, so springs and dampers – just refine it… but, you know, the raw pace is there isn’t it?’
Interestingly, that assessment was echoed by ITV4 Commentator and 1992 BTCC Champion, Tim Harvey, who observed that, in addition to the car’s impressive straightline speed, the MG6 was ‘really good on the brakes – you can brake really hard on the turn.’
MG KX Momentum Racing’s Team Principal, Ian Harrison, who had slept in the team’s truck on Friday night, told Louise Goodman that he was ‘chuffed to bits… I’m a bit speechless really’ following the Round 3 victory. The weekend had turned out ‘beyond all expectation… [Jason’s] driven for us before and we know what he’s like… he’s one of the best and you need somebody like that in the team at this level.’ However, Harrison added: ‘[The Championship’s] going to be really tight… The BMWs look threatening, to be honest, and I think they’ll be a force to be reckoned with and, of course, the Hondas – you can’t write them off… you write them off at your peril.’
A Round One clash with Dave Newsham’s then leading ES Racing-run, ex-Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra earned Plato a £750 fine and a three point endorsement on his Racing Licence but his subsequent win and the Championship lead can only serve to raise his own expectations and those of MG enthusiasts everywhere for Donington Park and the rest of the season – on the evidence of this weekend, MG is definitely back on track!
[Edtior’s Note: Any AROnline readers wishing to see Louise Goodman’s post-Round Three interviews with Jason Plato and Ian Harrison in full can now do so by following this link to the relevant clip on YouTube.]
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