MG KX Momentum Racing endured a weekend of ups and downs to secure their second race victory of the season in race three at Croft on Sunday. Jason Plato recovered from a technical issue on his car to win the final race of the day and take the top step for the seventieth time in his BTCC career.
Race one of the day marked the second race meeting in a succession that Plato failed to make his grid slot after problems to his car. It emerged that the technical issues that had blighted Plato's MG in Saturday's qualifying session had returned, and as such the #99 was not able to start the race. However, the MG crew fixed the problem in time for Plato to return to the track later on in the same race in order to get some laps under his belt and check that the problem was rectified. Team-mate Andy Neate equalled his best finish of the season so far by bringing his MG6 home in sixth position thanks to a strong opening lap after starting ninth.
Race two was yet another frustrating affair for the team. Plato set out to repeat hisOultonParkheroics by taking a podium finish after starting from the back of the grid, but it was not to be. In a measured drive he finished the race in seventh position to score valuable points which may well be important come the final round of the season. Neate had another solid run, this time to ninth position, yet still in the points.
However, race three was something of a race to remember for the Triple Eight run squad. The reverse grid draw meant that Neate started the final race of the day in second position, with Plato directly behind in fourth. As the lights went out, both cars made strong starts, but not strong enough to hold back the fast-starting BMWs into turn one. Soon, however, Neate managed to get past Nick Foster for the lead after a brave move into Lodge. Plato was quick to follow his team-mate through, resulting in a brief yet welcome one-two for the squad. Plato soon did away with his team-mate, and held the lead until the chequered flag.
Neate, on the other hand, had a disappointing run to the flag after a strong first half of the race and he came home in ninth for the second race in a row. Neate's downfall was brought about by the safety car appearance and subsequent restart, after which he was passed by both Hondas, one of which contacted him and left the MG with minor damage which meant the #44 could not push as hard as he wanted to.
Of his weekend, Neate said: “It's good to come away from Croft with three top ten finishes. Obviously it's disappointing to have not won race three after leading the majority of it, especially as I think I had the pace to do so. The safety car bunched everybody right up and I lost some temperature and pressure in my tyres which meant I couldn't hold on.” However, it will have been pleasing for Neate to have fought at the front after being outshone by his more experienced team-mate so far this year.
Meanwhile Plato was much more philosophical of his performance: “It's been a great end to what had been something of a tough weekend. Getting the win means the team can head into the Summer break with optimism for the second half of the season. After some testing and some development of new parts, we'll be ready for the fight when we get to Snetterton in August.”
Team principal Ian Harrison also took the positives from what had been a difficult weekend: “Jason had a brilliant drive in race three after the technical problems which carried themselves over form yesterday to today, but that is what I expect from him. He really is the stand out driver in this series. Andy had a solid weekend and it should have been even better, having led the majority of race three, but it's just unfortunate that he fell away at the end. At least he has proved he can fight outright for wins.”