Both Silverline Chevrolet drivers had their turn in the limelight at Knockhill as the two drivers of the RML-prepared Chevrolets shared three podiums across the three races.
With the previously unstoppable Fords reigned further back and not suiting the twisting Scottish circuit it was prime opportunity for Jason Plato to reassert his championship having come under renewed pressure from Tom Onslow-Cole after the round at Silverstone. However, it was left to teammate Alex MacDowall to lead the team's charge in qualifying, taking a second BTCC pole position to add the result he scored last month at Snetterton.
However, his pole position only led to second place as Gordon Shedden beat him to the first corner and then clung onto the lead sideways through the first corner as MacDowall refused to allow him to apex completely unchallenged.
“I didn't make the best start, but I know how strong the car is so I was able to make up for that,” said MacDowall. “I was carrying more speed then Shedden, so perhaps he was trying to back me up into Matt, but I wasn't having that – I just wanted to get on with it and try and steal the lead! I didn't quite manage that, despite putting him under pressure, but second is a fantastic result.”
A career best second was MacDowall's reward for holding off Neal's attention, but that's where MacDowall's good fortune ran out, a slow start from second on the grid in the second race leaving him struggling in the minor points places for both the second and third races, claiming only a ninth and a seventh from the rest of the day.
But where one Silverline Chevrolet man's podium visits ended, the other's began. Having only managed sixth, saddled with success ballast, in the first race Plato fought up to claim a podium in the second race – crucial as title rival Matt Neal won the race.
Plato had run fifth for much of the race but two ruthless moves in the closing stages of the race lifted him to third. Having already passed Tom Chilton for fourth before pressuring Steven Kane coming into the hairpin; “we both went to the inside but he locked up more than me so I just edged ahead, but these things happen,” Plato explained, denying any contact between the two.
Plato's weekend came to successful end in the final race, starting fifth he emerged second after several of those ahead made errors in the opening lap to find himself behind Tom Onslow-Cole's Ford.
The LPG-powered car had the speed advantage but, despite ballast, Plato was able to gain through the corners that make up a majority of the lap. On lap 23 Plato pulled to the inside of his rival on the main straight and claimed the lead with a committed move into the first corner.
“I'm really pleased with that,” said Plato who re-established a 20 point lead in the title standings, Matt Neal now in second place. “We had to work really hard to outfox the Ford there. It's been a mixed weekend for me but this win is a great result for all of us. It's great for the guys, they work so hard and we needed to get some extra points.”
“As in race two, I was a lot quicker than the Ford, but just couldn't find a way past. Once we get clear air, we can really use the Cruze – it corners well and brakes well – everything a race car should do.”
The BTCC circus next races at the reopened Donington Park on September 18-19.