Jason Plato lamented an “unlucky” visit to Silverstone, but says that anything can still happen in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s season finale at Brands Hatch.
The Team BMR man entered just six points adrift of Honda Yuasa Racing‘s Gordon Shedden heading into last weekend’s three races at Silverstone, but strong results for the latter saw him extend his series lead to 23 points over Plato heading into the final three rounds at Brands Hatch’s GP circuit.
Qualifying 10th, Plato suffered a left-front puncture late in race one of the day last weekend, salvaging results of seventh and fourth to keep his Honda rival firmly in sight, despite the Volkswagen CC man feeling disappointed by points lost out of his own hands.
“We were a bit unlucky to be honest,” admitted Plato to TCF afterwards. “We had a genuine puncture and an engine problem but it still would have been points. It was a pin hole that punctured the tyre, so we’ve just not had the rub of the green. It puts you on the back foot.”
On the engine dramas which started earlier than Silverstone’s visit, Plato said: “We knew we had a problem with it because as soon as we put that engine in, it was a water temperature problem. Even then, the second engine was better than the one we took out, so that will be tested this week and we’ll see what I had.”
The Volkswagen CC driver emerged with two solid results in the final pair of races, although his third encounter was stymied by the Motorbase Performance Ford of James Cole, ending in brief contact between the pair as Plato fought to pass the Ford Focus ST which topped speed traps again all weekend.
“Even in the last race I had really good pace but I’m getting stuck behind drivers that I can’t actually get past because they have big engines. If they weren’t in front of me feeding the wheel round corners, I wouldn’t get stuck.
“For Colin [Turkington], everything all opened up; he managed to get through and I just got stuck.
Then I could have been off up the road and challenging for the win. It is frustrating but just one of those weekends I think.”
Plato has previously had an uncanny ability to keep himself in the championship hunt, having been in contention at the final meeting of every season since 2006. The double champion claimed two victories in the final meeting of both of the last two BTCC seasons also, alongside clinching a famous treble in 2009 when at RML’s Chevrolet outfit.
Entering 23 points behind Honda’s Shedden, Plato pointed towards another key deciding factor – luck – adding: “That said, Gordon may have some sh*t luck in the last round.
“Will it be enough? I think Gordon is going to need some bad luck and have a DNF or something, because with the pace they’ve got and ability, they look good and are not going to be far away.
“Honda has definitely improved. We haven’t got any slower, so we’ll try and optimise the performance of the car at Brands and we’ll see what we can do.”