Jason Plato sent out a generous message to championship rival Colin Turkington after claiming a superb pole position for the final meeting of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, insisting that his rival would be a deserving champion.
Plato mathematically can still take the title as he lies 49 points behind with three races and 66 points still remaining at the 2.3-mile GP circuit in Kent, Turkington lining up fourth on the grid while Plato lead a Triple Eight MG one-two in Saturday’s qualifying thriller.
Times fell during the session as the damp tarmac began to dry out, drivers on slicks improving until a red flag brought and end to the session, with Plato almost 0.9s quicker than team-mate Sam Tordoff.
Plato waxed lyrical about the qualifying session which he came out on top in, relishing the mixed and changeable conditions which he described as his personal favourite.
“Those conditions are always when a driver relishes having a go, it’s not about the setup, it’s not about what car has an advantage, it’s about what the bloke behind the wheel does”, said the pole-sitter.
“I love it when it’s like that, it’s a trip into the unknown, it’s a bit like Russian roulette; you load the gun, you spin the barrel and you pull the trigger, but you don’t know what you’re going to get until you’re in the middle of the corner.
“On my pole lap I had a moment in Hawthorns where I bit off substantially more than I did the lap before and it bit me hard; I was sideways in the middle of the road doing 120 mph.”
The double champion admitted that his plan for the weekend is to win as many races as possible, adding that the 28-point Manufacturers’ championship lead remains the main goal to preserve.
“It puts us at the sharp end of the grid and hopefully we can control proceedings from there”, he added.
“The game plan for this weekend is to win some races and to finish. I’m intelligent enough to know that the Driver’s Championship is all but out of reach. As such, it’s really crucial that we win the manufacturer’s championship. I think if both of our cars finish ahead of the Hondas in the first two races, then it’s over and done with; we’ve got to take the manufacturer’s title home for MG.”
Plato also admitted that Turkington would require a catastrophic weekend of misfortune for him to grab the title, graciously adding that the 2009 champion would ‘deserve to win’.
Plato said: “I wouldn’t wish a total disaster of a day on Colin tomorrow, and that’s what he needs to have for me to win; I don’t want to win a championship like that either.
“They’ve done a brilliant job this year. Colin has drive exceptionally well, his team have provided him with an amazing car, and if they lost the championship through a crash or a bad weekend, it wouldn’t be fair.
“They deserve to win and I genuinely mean that.”