The MG KX Momentum Racing team left the first half of the 2013 BTCC season on the back foot slightly heading into the summer break after a mixed weekend at a damp Croft.
The former championship leaders left the North Yorkshire venue now 36 points behind championship leader Matt Neal, after changeable weather conditions prior to race two led to a costly mistake as the Triple Eight team opted to start their drivers Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff on wet tyres as a reaction to the shower.
The gamble briefly paid off in the opening three laps as Plato and Tordoff scthyed through the dry tyre-shod runners to leap to the front and into a three-second lead, but as the rain stopped and track conditions began to rapidly dry out, so did the gamble as the two KX-backed MG6s sunk throught the field, eventually finishing a lapped 20th and 21st.
Plato, who had initially finished the dry opening race fifth, told btcc.net afterwards: “We had checked the weather pretty closely, and we were certain that there was a huge rain shower coming and it would get worse.
“We opted for wet weather tyres to begin the race and then, typically, the wind changed ever so slightly and the storm clouds that were due to drench the track moved to the east of the circuit by a fraction.”
The pair were forced to recover through the field from those same lowly positions on the grid in race three, which was a much wetter affair following another heavier downpour. Plato and Tordoff both battled their way up the order, surviving a number of scrapes along the way to fight up to finish sixth and seventh by the flag in a mixed weekend for the squad.
The weekend was another learning step in BTCC for Tordoff, who later commented: “I have learned a lot over the course of the weekend, but we could never really recover the ground we lost at the start of the meeting. I didn’t have enough time to learn the track and we lost a lot of time when they cancelled a free practice session due to an accident. I wasn’t able to run through the programme I wanted to.
“Nevertheless, I was pleased with the learning I did in race three because I had never really raced a BTCC car in the wet conditions like that,” he added. “It was another new experience – I seem to be having a lot of those this season – and it is a building block in my development as a racing driver and learning about the British Touring Car Championship.”
The other side of the coin for the team was that the MG6 finally showed signs of improvements to their wet-weather pace, a problem for them throughout last year. Plato, who now lies joint third in the standings with the man who beat him in the wet conditions to the title at Brands Hatch last year, Gordon Shedden, also noticed this fact, and was encouraged by the improvements.
The double champion added: “That gave me some huge satisfaction, because we had a tough time in the wet races last season so we have certainly got that monkey from our back. Now we are confident that we have a car that works in all conditions, as long as we can predict them correctly…!”