Jason Plato took a fantastic double victory in today’s MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Snetterton, propelling him back into the championship lead as Matt Neal’s hopes of strong results flailed with a puncture from the first race. Jason now leads with 151 points, 20 points clear of Neal.
Making a great start off the line for the first of three races, Jason was looking strong despite Jackson trying to throw him into error as he chased him over the midway laps, nose to tail. A couple of fastest laps from the Airwaves BMW man did little to dent Jason’s focus as he tucked into his reserves and pulled out a comfortable two second gap, which he maintained to the flag. Jason’s third win of the season pushed him back to the top of the leader board with 128 points, including one for his fastest lap set in the closing stages, to Neal’s 119.
In stark contrast it was a bitterly disappointing race for pole-sitter, Alex MacDowall and his Silverline Chevrolet team. A broken gear lever forced Alex to pull over from the start, robbing him of the opportunity of should have been a great finish for the Chevrolet Cruzes. Alex returned to the pits for the team to inspect in preparation for race two.
Speaking after the first race, Jason summarised: “The break has really helped us. It’s given us time to really understand how to improve the car. That gap has been worth its weight in gold, followed by a successful test here a couple of weeks ago. For the first half of the race I was struggling against understeer in the high speed
corners, but compared to the start of the season, we’ve now got a car where we can really attack. It’s working better for us now. This was an important win for us, with a great points haul over Matt. It’s a shame for him, but I’ll take those points!”
Of his race, Alex commented: “Obviously it’s disappointing. Starting from pole we had it all to play for, but it just didn’t work out. I’m doing the best I can., as are the team, it’s not their fault, we’ve just had some bad luck. After I pitted I was a couple of tenths off Jason’s fastest lap, on a heavier fuel load so we’ve got the pace. We should have been challenging for a 1-2.” Jason proved unstoppable in race two, leading from start to finishing and
perfectly controlling the race to add a second victory to his tally and crucially, extending his lead over Neal by twenty-four points.
With Jackson and the Aon Ford pairing of Chilton and Onslow-Cole enduring a three-way battle, Jason was left to race clear ahead, extending his lead to four seconds over 2nd place. Alex’s frustration continued into race two. Having made contact with independent racer, Lea Wood, Alex was knocked out of shape, hitting the kerb hard in an effort to avoid further accident. Significant damage was sustained to the Cruze’s sump and he was forced into retirement. The team set to work to replace for race three.
Jason enthused, “We’ve just really got the car where we want it over the seven week break. Now that we’ve got a handle on the car, we really have made some big gains. I knew from race one we still had more to come. I got a good first lap and gained a comfortable lead. The performance is there, we made some decent changes to the car, such as roll bars and dampers and now that Chevrolet Cruze is phenomenal to drive. We really have just got it where we need it."
Race three proved less eventful for the Silverline Chevrolet duo. Lining up 9th and 16th on the grid in the absence of Andrew Jordan who didn’t make it to the grid, Jason fought his way through to 5th place, but was unable to make an impression on the Ford ahead. Team-mate Alex worked his way through to finish 13th.
Jason retains his championship lead with 151 points, Neal is 2nd in the standings on 131 points and Shedden rounds out the top three with 127 points. The MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Silverstone for rounds 19, 20 & 21 in two weeks’ time on the 21st & 22nd August 2010.