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BTCC

“Bad Luck” Puncture Ends Jason Plato’s Title Defence

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Jason Plato (Photo Credit: Chevrolet)

Jason Plato (Photo Credit: Chevrolet)

Silverline Chevrolet driver Jason Plato was left to rue poor luck after losing a chance at defend his title, largely down to race one puncture at Silverstone.

Plato, who has rode a roller coaster of a season with his RML run team began the final three race meeting just five points behind championship leader Matt Neal after a late surge including two win on the penultimate weekend at Brands Hatch.

However, Plato's championship hopes took a hit in qualifying when he could only qualify his normally aspirated Chevrolet Cruze seventh fastest, two places behind young teammate Alex MacDowall, whose car was free from the success ballast in Plato's machine.

The early laps of the had Plato involved in a midfield fight that also involved his teammate, but also James Nash and Tom Chilton, who won two of the races at the track in 2010. Plato's part in battle came to an end on lap ten, when he pulled the no.1 Cruze off the track as he battled on the pit straight with a left-front puncture.

The premature end to the race – he was credited with 25th place – all but ended Plato's title ambitions, with the grid for the second race of the weekend set by the finishing order to the first. Still – in the latest of a number of come-from-the-back drives this season – Plato recoverd to an impressive seventh place, fighting through most of the field in the 25 lap race. Neal and Honda teammate Gordon Shedden ended the race first and second, mathematically ending Plato's chance of retaining the title.

“We had some pretty bad luck,” Plato said. “But that's racing, and we always knew Silverstone would be difficult as it's impossible to overtake the turbocharged cars on fast circuits. We know we've got a great car and Silverline Chevrolet/RML are the best team in the business, we gave it our best, and we took it to the final meeting – a lot of people weren't expecting that.”

A favourable reverse grid draw for the team offered a silver lining as it put Plato third on the grid, with MacDowall on pole after he added a ninth place finish to his fifth from the opening race. The 20-year-old got a slow start, allowing Chilton to slip through into the lead, Plato following into second place.

The Oxford based driver remained close to Chilton through much the race but was never amount to mount a challenge to take what would have been his tenth win of the year. Still his nine win tally from 2011 remained the best of any driver during the season.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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