News : Plato races into BTCC lead at Brands Hatch!

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: BTCC Media Office

Andrew Jordan, Pirtek Honda Civic, Jason Plato, MG6, 2012, Brands Indy

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.]

Dave Newsham, Jason Plato (winner), Andrew Jordan, 2012, R3, Brands Indy

Clive Goldthorp

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

44 Comments

  1. Now, did anyone expect to read that?

    Fantastic positive news for MG, let’s hope the team can keep the momentum going 🙂

  2. As Ford Great Britain used to say, race on Sunday and sell on Monday. Time for a limited edition Vitesse version of the 6 with 200 bhp!

  3. nice to see theyre back again and on the podium, its a shame I couldnt follow it on TV, i have motorsport, eurosport 1&2, BBC 1-4 in Holland and yet didnt get to see all the action… 🙁

  4. The last race was unbelievable, along with Brawn GP it falls into the category whereby if it were a movie you would say it was far fetched!

    A great aggressive drive.

    Hopefully it will also get a bit of exposure for MG.

    My only gripe though is that the touring cars with their aero kit all look so similar. It isn’t like the 90s when it was easy to identify between cars (which looked like their roadgoing versions).

  5. I watched this, one of the rare times I do watch it, good race, albeit sans 7 cars which piled into the sandtrap. Ive actually driven that circuit, and that top corner is nasty at the best of times (bright yellow ginettas diving up the inside dont help).
    Can anyone shed any light on the ‘JG .76’ phenomenon as the cars were on the grid? – ive seen less smoke come out of a sick heinkel. Why is it that these engines are smoking like fred dibnahs chimney, when road going turbo cars, dont have this problem. More to the point, if its some sort of blowby how is it suddenly cured under load, when it should get worse?

  6. @ Jemma. Something to do with a more fuel rich mixture than road cars (should have) at a guess maybe?

  7. @12, Marcel, I watched last Saturday’s Qualifying on ITV’s BTCC Live page and believe that you should be able to view the whole Sunday programme via that link each BTCC Meeting.

    Incidentally, the BTCC Highlights programme should be available online via either the ITV BTCC home page and/or ITV Player from later on this afternoon – if following the latter link, click on the By Channel button and then on the ITV4 button.

    Hope that will enable you not to miss out on the rest of this season’s BTCC action…

  8. DAMN! I am going to write to ITV and tell them to split that programme into several. I wanted to record the appropriate races, but putting it all in one programme…

    But WOW. Well done MG/KX

  9. @16, clive, thanks for your tip, the live page is only for viewers in the UK!! ;( and I already sent a mail to ITV and i will try itv player later…

  10. @8,
    Same problem here in Spain. Can’t view anywhere. Clive, thanks for the links but UK only. Great news for MG. Should be more BRG on the car though.

  11. Fantastic news! Well done MG 🙂

    @ Jemma – Now I’m no fancy big city engineer, but… wouldn’t it be the turbine shaft seals in the turbo leaking oil that cause the smoke? I’m assuming they design the seals to resist the vast pressures of boosted air at full load pushing the oil out/blocking it from flowing, so when under partial load the oil pressure overcomes the lower boost pressure and seeps a little oil into the turbo airway. My best guess anyway.

  12. Rethinking that idea immediately Jemma – it could alternatively be that oil seeps into the airflow from somewhere at all loads, but the greater volume of air stuffed into each cylinder at full load burns off all the surplus oil, giving no chimney smoke when flat out, but plumes at partial load.

    Though why they would allow a regular oil seep is beyond me. Surely it’s not a variant on the early turbo days of over-rich fuel settings (so the surplus unburnt fuel would cool the cylinder below detonation)?

    Stepping back from the microphone, and leaving it to the engineers… 😉

  13. Really great well done Jason, as I said before be great to see a 200bhp MG6. At least be comparable with earlier MG cars. Regards Mark

  14. Congratulations to Jason Plato and great news for MG!!!!

    Come on MG UK. You’ve got to capitalise on this. Just imagine the advert – ‘Introducing the new BTCC race winning MG6…..”. A great way to bring the car to the attention of those who don’t know of it at all and to remind those who perhaps have a vague idea that the SAIC MG exists

  15. With a winning car still requiring/capable of so much development it’s going to be one helluva season….

  16. Strike whilst the Iron is Hot MG or once again you will loose the opportunity. Still not seen an MG6 on the Sussex roads yet! Well done Mr Potato for winning the first race

  17. Right. Now, get the above picture on a MASSIVE BILLBOARD outside of Heathrow Airport with the slogan:
    ‘Dear BMW. Up Yours. MG.’

  18. Well done to The whole MG/KX/Momentum team, and now you have the momentum, use it to advantage to sell the product. Regarding the race car, a little extra strength to the rear skirt would be useful to prevent it acting as a drogue chute every time it is clobbered. It is better to have the damage on the opponents car – much better.
    I must say that I wouldn’t like to have Jason driving that close to me, I’d feel a bit intimidated. Jolly good fun though, but I had to record it and as it overran, I still haven’t seen the last four laps of the last race – I’m recording the highlights tonight.

  19. @ Various: I dont think the smoke was over rich mixture, wrong colour. It was also odd the way it seemed to hang in the air as well. I guess it might be designed in seepage into the turbo – but on practically any turbo roadcar you care to mention that sort of smoke on idle presages the not so enjoyable experience of the insides of your turbo wizzing past your ear just after you hit the M6…
    I dimly remember the era of the turbo F1 cars, various of which had a dazzling propensity to start chucking out clouds of white-ish smoke on a fairly regular basis.

    The only other thing I can think of is a variable vane turbocharger with sloppy clearances (which might explain why only some of the cars were smoking like the Dreadnought at flank speed, and others showed no signs at all).

    The only other thought is some sort of top end lubricant in the fuel, which might cause smoke at low rpm. I’d assume they use race fuel which might also account for it (although hopefully not containing any ethyl dibromide, which eats valve seats quicker than Sainsburys unleaded).

    @ 27 – You’ve been reading sniffpetrol.com again haven’t you? 😉

  20. @14-Jemma

    Dear Jemma, why change the subject and talk about “engines smoking” now the MG6 has won the race?

  21. @James I can already imagine BMW’s counter-attack;

    Dear MG

    Remember who killed you the first time? Well, we can do it again.

    With love, BMW. The Ultimate Asset-Stripping Machine.

  22. They have done well and good luck to them! Now lets see a European manufacturer step in and take it back off them again 😀

    It would be good to see this event come back from obscurity with real interest from mainstream manufacturers, other than simply Honda and a bunch of privateers.

  23. I watched all three races on the TV Sunday, I have to say I was really impressed with the MG6 and if you followed all the interviews there was a very unsettled atmosphere from the other competitors about the cars performance. It clearly has a lot of potential, it was quick, it broke well and by the third race the handling looked very tight. For the first time in a long time BTTC has suddenly become interesting again. Well done Jason and the team and almost three podiums, remember the first race Jason came 4th by the length of the MG6’s front wing, a impressive first outing. As for the smoking on the start up, Tim Harvey mentioned in the commentary that this was a common on Turbocharged race cars but didn’t explain why.

  24. Not while they have the current sales and marketing team they won’t, over 48 hours to even mention this victory on their website?

    Lazy and Shameful and it’s still not mentioned on the landing page.
    It’s in the news section and the Motorsport page still refers to April 1st being in the future.

    MG sales and marketing once again prove that they just don’t care and they can’t blame the budget for this one.

  25. After reading Ross A – April 2, 2012 comment,I think Mr Ross is a right idiot. Obviously not an MG supporter of any sort

  26. Watched the race, fantastic to see MG whooping the likes of Audi, BMW and the poor old Honda that was all but driven off the road !!! BUT why do I only know about this from watching ITV4 and reading a niche website like this, where is the aggressive advertising on TV or even bill boards (preferably outside other dealerships) Answer… NOWHERE…….. why spend a fortune designing and building a great car that nobody knows about, the chinese board should be taken out and shot for there inept marketing , come on MG get your act together !!!

  27. I was a little intrigued about Audi in that race. They kept saying it was rear wheel drive? I think most Audi’s have been Front wheel drive since the 1920’s? Perhaps its a 4WD with the front disconnected? eitherway I can’t see the logic, why not use a stock A4 FWD?

  28. Fantastic racing, had it not been for MG I wouldn’t have bothered watching. Pleased I did, proper racing unlike modern F1!

  29. I drove an MG6 on one of the press days and the road model does drive and handle very well. I’m no expert but I would guess that gives a touring car team a sound basis for development and that is what we are seeing now. I agree with the general sentiment; this is a Good Car and here is a great advertising opportunity. Why is no-one from MG shouting from the rooftops?

  30. @37 – Read the posts properly before you slag me off Mr (or Mrs/Miss) T. Sqiure:

    I was taking the mickey out of those who have continuously slated MG and pretty much written of their BTCC hopes. I am a staunch supporter of MG of old (having owned a, some would say, dubiously badge-engineered model), as well as in it’s current incarnation.

    I was also quite vocal in calling for some sort of relevant motorsport presence, in terms of getting into the BTCC. My only issue is still with the marketing aspect right now but they do have a reasonable plan to move things along.

    The cars seem to be quite reliable, people and fleets are taking notice and sales are up ( http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2012/04/06/mg-motor-uk-is-marching-on-with-3-000-per-cent-sales-surge-97319-30705131/#ixzz1rFuIxuKg ) – this should be celebrated – although there are some that still have a rose tinted view of what should be – they know who you are.

    So Mrs Squire, please read the post properly and learn how to understand sarcasm…

  31. Gosh! 236 in a month after on;y one year’s production! That’s very nearly 3% of the volume that MGR built in their final year at Longbridge when they collapsed,in large part due to a lack of sales! Working in sales management myself, I would hate to have to report these levels of sales to my Directors, let alone convince the Press that this is anything short of a disaster.

    I am happy to celebrate these results as I have no wish to see UK motor manufacturing damaged by Chinese built cars getting a foothold in the UK market. I would like to think that they would stay at sub Morgan level of production and grovel around in the zero profit arena of supplying hire cars indefinitely but, with the help of some hugely misguided patriotism for the MG marque (ironically), I suspect this won’t be the case for long.

  32. @John – this is fantastic news, MG is on the up! Hopefully they will base MG3 (Midget) production here, and also the MG5. Well done MG, we’re getting there!

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