Jason Plato came away from the seventh Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting a relieved man, still leading the series by 11 points after a Knockhill round not suited to Team BMR.
The long-wheelbase Volkswagen CC machines of the BMR squad appeared to struggle at the twisty 1.2-mile Fife circuit in Scotland, Plato heading team-mate Colin Turkington by 14 points coming into the round but emerging still 11 clear of Gordon Shedden.
After qualifying a career-worst 22nd on the grid with 75kg of success ballast, Plato effectively sacrificed his opening race with 23rd in clear space to earn a better grid slot for race two. Fighting to results of seventh and fourth in the final two encounters, Plato was left a very happy man to come away as series leader.
Ahead of Rockingham in two weekends time, the double champion said: “From where we were in qualifying it was a really good weekend. We’ve really rescued it.
“We’re going to three circuits now where there are longer corners – the problem with Knockhill is it just doesn’t suit our car. It’s just the way it is, but this is the only circuit on the calendar with these characteristics, so I’m pleased with the weekend.”
Plato expects the BMR racing squad to hit back in the coming visit to Corby’s Rockingham Speedway on 5/6 September, expecting no such worries at the more open circuit as he bids for a third BTCC title.
“We tested recently at Rockingham so we’ve got a good set-up for both race and qualifying. It’s game on – we’ve got this out of the way now, and I’m going home pleased.”
Team-mate Turkington meanwhile endured a much tougher weekend, a best result of 10th coupled with a non-finish and 15th place, now leaving him fourth in the title chase and 28 behind his rival, Plato.
The reigning champion said: “A very difficult day – we’ve been struggling for pace all weekend really. It was really unlucky in race two with Andy [Priaulx], if we’d made contact anywhere else it would have been OK but as it was it broke my suspension.
“I think our performance will be a lot stronger at Rockingham than here, and the next few tracks should suit our car better too. It’s up and down and that’s how it’s going to be until the end.”
Championship standings after round 7/10:
|1.||Jason Plato||Team BMR (Volkswagen)||249||4|
|2.||Gordon Shedden||Honda Yuasa Racing Team (Honda)||238||3|
|3.||Matt Neal||Honda Yuasa Racing Team (Honda)||227||3|
|4.||Colin Turkington||Team BMR (Volkswagen)||221||3|
|5.||Andrew Jordan||Triple Eight (MG)||219||-|
|6.||Sam Tordoff||WSR (BMR)||206||2|
|7.||Andy Priaulx||WSR (BMW)||205||1|
|8.||Adam Morgan||Ciceley Racing (Mercedes)||188||1|
|9.||Robert Collard||WSR (BMW)||171||3|
|10.||Jack Goff||Triple Eight (MG)||170||1|