Plato Cruzes to race three winPosted: May 1, 2011
The reigning champion, carrying upside-down Silverlinesponsorship on his Chevrolet Cruze all weekend to laugh off his huge accident two weeks ago at Donington, sealed his fate with a superb start from the front row of the grid to swamp the pole sitter Tom Boardman going into the first corner.
He was swiftly followed by the Motorbase Ford of Mat Jackson who made a sensational start from fifth on the grid to move into second place to pressure Plato throughout the first lap, giving the Chevrolet a bump into the final chicane as the field closed up behind the leader Plato.
That would be as close as Jackson came all race however, as Plato began to stretch his lead over the Ford, surviving a brief safety car period midway through the race on his way to a comfortable win, and one that Plato needed to keep his championship on track.
The safety car delay was caused by the Arena Ford of Tom Chilton as, under intense pressure coming out of the final chicane from Andrew Jordan, Chilton ran too deep into the first corner and clattered into the barriers, Jordan almost following him in the process.
The incident saw Jordan also run across the grass and pick up a radiator full of grass as a result, the delay also dropping the Vauxhall driver behind the two Honda Civics of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal.
However at the restart the race really broke back into life as Boardman was caught napping a long way back as the safety car peeled off, backing the field up behind him for third place and almost costing James Nash a place to the second Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall.
MacDowall had suffered a shocking start to the race as he dropped to fifth place, and a lap after the restart he was swamped by the two Hondas of Neal and Shedden. Neal had passed his team-mate on the restart and then made his move by squeezing the Chevrolet driver out at the first corner, before Jordan also had the momentum approaching Goodwood to slip up the inside and push MacDowall down to eighth place.
Behind Plato and Jackson, Boardman held on to score a hard-earned podium ahead of the attacking Nash and two Hondas, while Jordan held off MacDowall to the flag for an eventual seventh place finish.
Further down the pack, the top 10 was rounded off by Tony Gilham and Tom Onslow-Cole, the latter driving a storming race through the field into the points after starting from the back following a non-start in race two due to problems, after making his way through an epic early battle between Paul O’Neill, Jeff Smith and Rob Collard who were three abreast at one stage.
A fantastic weekend for Neal now means he leads the championship after Thruxton, 12 points clear of Motorbase’s Jackson, while James Nash now slips to third in the points after entering th eround as points leader, six points ahead of Jordan who lies 31 behind Neal in fourth.
The championship now heads to Oulton Park for rounds 10,11 and 12 on June 4-5.
Race three results:
1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 25m54.654s
2. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 1.444s
3. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 2.217s
4. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 2.601s
5. Matt Neal Honda + 3.110s
6. Gordon Shedden Honda + 3.463s
7. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 8.790s
8. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 9.113s
9. Tony Gilham Triple 8 Vauxhall + 10.507s
10. Tom Onslow-Cole AmD Volkswagen + 11.062s
11. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 17.682s
12. Andy Neate Arena Ford + 18.300s
13. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 18.468s
14. Paul O’Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 19.568s
15. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 19.875s
16. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 26.512s
17. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 27.293s
18. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 54.655s
DNF Tom Chilton Arena Ford 5 laps
DNF Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 2 laps