Jason Plato was left a frustrated figure as he left the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s latest visit to Knockhill, a weekend that saw his MG KX Momentum Racing squad struggle for pace throughout the Scottish meeting.
Double champion Plato now faces a huge task if he is to clinch a third crown after a weekend where he could only salvage a fourth, seventh and fifth place string of finishes, the solid haul of points from the experienced eight-time former Knockhill race winner not enough to close the gap in the championship.
Plato now lies 55 points off the championship lead of Matt Neal with three rounds and nine races still to run, a struggle to find a smooth balance in the car leaving the MG man and his mechanics scratching their heads at the Fife circuit.
“We tried so many different things with the car over the course of the weekend to get the car to react positively, but we just couldn’t get it to handle the way I liked”, said Plato.
Plato switched his attentions quickly to Rockingham – a track which he claimed pole position and a victory at last season in the MG6 – after the weekend in Scotland proved one he would rather erase from his memory banks.
“It was very frustrating and it shows that we still have to work hard – and by that I mean myself, the team and all the engineers. We have got to completely erase the memory of this weekend and think about Rockingham because we have got a set-up which we know works there. We dominated race one at that circuit last year and we have just got to think about winning some races.”
Team principal Ian Harrison was left bewildered after the disappointing weekend in Fife for his MG squad, but remained positive that the Rockingham circuit next on the calendar will suit their machine more than the undulating Knockhill.
“We have got to find out why the set-up was not good at Knockhill. In the last race meeting we did at Snetterton, we were almost untouchable so we shouldn’t lose sight of that”, commented Harrison.
“It is our worst performance this year in terms of out and out pace and it is the only circuit that we race on with those particular characteristics. That is no excuse because we should be able to hook the car up like some of the other teams hook the car up, but we seemed to struggle. We have to analyse it and find out what’s caused this and learn from it. We are looking ahead.”
Plato’s team-mate Sam Tordoff had little luck either at Knockhill, the 24-year-old sharing his MG partner’s pain after a sluggish weekend that netted the rookie only ninth and eighth place finishes to his record before an alternator failure left his car stranded on-track concluding the warm-up lap of race three.
Tordoff added: “We never got on top of the car,” he said. “We struggled through to two top tens and then in race three we had a car fault. We don’t know why our pace was so far adrift at Knockhill.
“Over the course of the weekend, we had changed massive things on the car and it has not had any effect. We were outside of the window to get the car to work well and when you are out of that, the car doesn’t respond to changes.”