Photography: BTCC Media Office and Martin Williamson
Jason Plato thrust himself right into the heart of the fight for this season’s 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship by taking his MG KX Momentum Racing-run MG6 GT to two stylish wins at Oulton Park in Cheshire yesterday.
The former champion was the highest points scorer across the weekend’s three races, but was ruled out of the final event when damage caused his car to erupt in flames.
Plato’s team-mate, Sam Tordoff, underlined the team’s competitive showing in Cheshire by landing the best result of his career to date when he followed his sister car over the line in the opening race.
Plato said he was delighted to have turned the car’s potential into a big points pay day with his 77th and 78th career victories in Britain’s leading motor racing championship.
‘That was one heck of a weekend,’ he said afterwards. ‘We had a fantastic car underneath us but that is only part of the job. You still have to land the results and we did. The team has worked hard to get the best out of this car, and I am now confident that we will be able to go anywhere and be fast. It is a joy to drive.’
After his fiery exit from the third race of the weekend, Plato said that slight contact in the pack during the early jostling might have been a contributing factor. ‘There was a concertina effect at the hairpin on lap two and everyone tapped into the back of each other,’ he explained. ‘I nudged into the car in front and that may have a link to the failure but there is no apparent damage we can see on any external components. It is a shame, but we’re still able to walk away from here with a smile.’
Tordoff was all smiles after the opening race of the weekend. The Leeds ace, a member of the KX Akademy, banked a career-best second place finish behind Plato after a brave opening lap. He ran side-by-side with a rival through the first two corners before securing the spot.
He failed to finished the second event after a brush with another car – incredibly, Tordoff’s first non-points finish of the season – before staging one of the drives of the weekend to go from 21st to seventh in race three.
‘I was delighted with the podium in the opening race and, as Jason says, it underlines the progress we have made in the car throughout the year,’ explained Tordoff. ‘I was still able to push at the end of the first race if I had needed too, but fortunately, I didn’t have to. I went with the softer option tyres in race two, which went off towards the end and I dropped back before the contact.
‘Race three was really good fun, and that shows what we are capable of – I think if I had have started in the top ten, I could have won that race,’ he added.
Tordoff consolidated fifth place in the standings, while Plato has moved to within seven points of the title summit as the title fight reaches its halfway point at Croft in North Yorkshire in two weeks’ time.
MG KX Momentum Racing’s Team Principal, Ian Harrison, said he thought that the team had exploited its chances with the wins at Oulton Park.
‘When you have won two out of three races, you can’t complain,’ he explained. ‘But what I am delighted about is that we have two cars up there capable of battling for wins, which we haven’t had before. Sam had some rough times this weekend but hey, this is the BTCC. It isn’t easy. Jason’s narrowed the gap to the points leaders and we are in a strong frame of mind.’
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 2013 – Drivers’ Standings after 12/30 rounds
1 Matt Neal Honda Yuasa Racing Honda Civic 173
2 Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing Honda Civic 169
3 Jason Plato MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 166
4 Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing Honda Civic 142
5 Sam Tordoff MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 129
6 Colin Turkington eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport 123
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