No.1 Jason Plato – No.20 Alex MacDowall
S2000 chassis and engine
Have the RML team taken a risk in not jumping to the NGTC engine?
However, the team have not stood still. As their 2010 machinery has found its way to Tech-Speed last year's WTCC winning Cruzes have come down the Chevy food chain to the BTCC, so the team are still taking a step forward, and into a much more predictable position.
The difference in engine between Silverline's cars and the chasing Hondas and Fords will be an intriguing battle all year, swinging back and forth throughout the year. And that's before success ballast and performance balancing starts to intrude on the racing.
Plato will, of course, be chasing a third title as well as the BTCC record for wins – he starts the year on 60 victories, tied with series legend Andy Rouse. It's almost certain that Rouse's record will go at some point in 2011, the title fight – it's just too close to call.
While Plato starts looking for win 61, Alex MacDowall seeks his first.
His debut season notched up pole positions, but no wins and more than enough frustrating bad luck. In a second season with the best team on the grid MacDowall needs to prove he belongs – and that means wins.
Jason Plato Onâ€¦.The importance of the early rounds
“We've got to win at Brands Hatch, we've got to win at Thruxton we've got to win at Donington. We have to score some really good points. The prefect start would I'd want two wins at Brands, two wins at Thruxton and Donington. That'll be the dream start to the year and then some good, solid top-five finishes in race three at each of the first three meetings. We've got to make hay now whilst we're at an advantage in that we sort of understand the equipment, we won't have any mechanical dramas – touch wood – because we know everything so well. That can't be said of the opposition at the moment in time.”
Alex MacDowall Onâ€¦..Building on his debut season
“I think last year was really a learning year so to get pole positions I didn't expect to get a win off them, but I think this year I've got to try and prove myself as a big name and I think I'd like to get a handful of wins but realistically in the championship I think top five and I've got probably the best car out there so there's no excuses. I've just to learn from last year and put it into good effect this year really.”
Verdict: Early rounds with be central to Plato's title defence, though he will challenge regardless. MacDowall due wins.