Jason Plato has crucially maintained his lead in the championship despite a challenging third race as the championship battles heats up with Tom Onslow-Cole now clinching second place from Matt Neal. Collecting a string of points-scoring finishes with 3rd, 4th and 9th in today’s three MSA British Touring Car Championship races, Jason’s points tally now amounts to 171. And with team-mate, Alex MacDowall, regaining momentum and finishing 4th, 9th & 10th, the Silverline Chevrolet duo are on target for an exciting second half of the season as the championship fight shapes up.
Off the line Jason took 3rd from Alex in the morning’s first race, closing in to within 0.8s of the leading Aon Ford pairing, but despite nose to tail racing with Onslow-Cole, Jason was unable to make a sensible pass – still carrying the penalty of a hefty 45kgs success ballast. Benefitting from a lighter Cruze, Alex was showcasing the car’s pace and performance, defending from Jordan and increasing the pressure on Jason. In securing the third step of the podium, Jason advanced his lead to 27 points clear of 8th place finisher, Matt Neal.
In the second race Jason took 4th place and Alex 9th amid bumps and scrapes aplenty for their championship competitors. It was a frustrating start to the race with a less than perfect getaway from Jason and wheelspin for Alex hampering their chances of making an impression on the Ford duo ahead. Running 5th and 6th, both drivers’ lucked in with the early departure from Jordan due to a puncture, but as Jason progressed, Alex suffered bodywork, exhaust and rear bumper damage from a forceful manoeuvre from O’Neill, pushing him ackwards down the field. But by the 14th lap, Alex had worked his way to tag onto the back of the leading train. And has Jason’s mirrors warned of Neal’s approaching Honda, a late move from O’Neill forced Neal wide, meaning any concerns the team had for a showdown between the top title protagonists was short lived.
Jason finished 4th and Alex 9th. The reverse grid lottery promised for an enthralling final race with Jason starting from 3rd and Alex from 9th, but the Silverline Chevrolet team fell victim to the touring car tradition of race three chaos. Contact between Jason and Neal out of the apex forced Jason into a slide, running wide at Copse in the effort to recover. From here his race was heavily compromised, rejoining down in 17th. Alex’s start fared no better with his engine bogging down on the grid, his car hardly moving as the red lights went out, resulting in a huge hit from an unsighted Depper behind.
Despite the opening drama, both Jason and Alex forged ahead to finish 9th and 10th, both in the points. Jason maintains the lead in the Drivers’ Championship with 171 points. Tom Onslow-Cole now moves into second, 14 points behind with 157 and Matt Neal has slipped to third with 148 points.
Scotland’s Knockhill hosts the next race on the calendar in just two weeks’ time.