Jason Plato remains hopeful that he can successfully defend his British Touring Car title despite losing vital ground at Croft this weekend. The Silverline Chevrolet driver entered the weekend just 12 points behind series leader Matt Neal and after beating the Honda to pole position, looked set to reduce the deficit.
But race day began to go wrong right from the start when contact from Rob Collard forced Plato onto the grass at Clervaux, allowing Matt Neal to snatch the lead. Plato was unable to find a way past Collard and dropped to fourth on the final lap as Mat Jackson's slick-shod Ford Focus overpowered the Chevrolet Cruze which had started on wets.
The weekend took another turn for the worse in race two when a broken driveshaft coupling forced him out of fifth place. This would have a knock-on effect for race three with Plato forced to start from 20th on the grid. Despite his best efforts, the reigning champion could only make it as high as 11th, missing out on any points.
The season now heads into a seven-week summer break, and Plato hopes that a review into the performance of the turbo cars will help him make inroads into Matt Neal's 40 point advantage when the championship battle resumes.
“There are five rounds of the series left, and I'm disappointed with the outcome of today” he said. “But we've got a great car, and the team has a lot of potential, especially given the proposed review in the summer break.”
Alex MacDowall also had a trying day in the second Silverline Chevrolet as a number of incidents and problems set him back in the first two races. Like his teammate, MacDowall was forced off track at the start of race one after contact with Gordon Shedden, and another excursion later in the race relegated him to 14th.
The Cumbrian driver was in a points position again in race two but was forced to pull into the pits with a oil pressure problem and retired three laps from the end. The luck finally turned for MacDowall in race three as he stormed from 16th on the grid to score points in eighth, finishing right on the tail of the two Honda Racing drivers.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship resumes on the first weekend of August, when the drivers will compete on the new Snetterton 300 layout for the first time.