Drama as Honda’s last corner calamity gifts Plato winPosted: June 5, 2011
Jason Plato won a controversial and manic second touring car race but only as a result of a catastrophic error from Matt Neal, who took out himself and his team-mate Gordon Shedden at the final corner of the race.
Shedden had led the way from start to finish after a brilliant start that left Plato fighting off James Nash into the first two corners of the race, which was quickly soon under safety car conditions to clear up Jeff Smith’s Vauxhall Vectra at Cascades.
At the restart the men on the move were Eurotech’s Andrew Jordan and the Honda Civic of Neal, the former passing Nick Foster at Cascades while the latter did the same inside Alex MacDowall, before Neal then made his way past Foster coming out Knickerbrook not too much later despite a little bit of contact between the pair.
The pair were then quick to close up to Rob Collard’s BMW where Jordan outdrove him on the exit of Lodge corner, after which Neal followed him through a corner later into Old Hall.
Neal then took up the chase as he made light work of Jordan’s Vauxhall Vectra into Knickerbrook on lap six, while the WSR BMW’s behind were dropping back as their tyres were struggling in the drying conditions.
The pace of Neal’s Honda was evident as he firstly caught and passed Nash’s Vauxhall for third place under braking at Lodge, and then a corner later he slipped under Plato’s Chevrolet for second. However, on lap 12 Neal ran wide at the hairpin to drop beind the pairing again, before recovering well by once again passing Nash at Lodge, before powering past Plato on the straight with superior power and traction out of the hairpin a lap later.
The race was then turned on its head by another safety car caused by John George in the gravel at Lodge, which lead to an unbelivable sprint to the flag. As Shedden and Neal began to control the race, on the penultimate lap Neal accidentally ran into his team-mate at the hairpin when he locked up his brakes, an omen of what was to come.
The order looked set on the final lap as Colard pressured Nash for fourth, until Neal again locked up his brakes entering the final corner of the race, throwing his car up the inside of Shedden and putting the two cars into the gravel to the despair of the Dynamics team and the delight of Plato, who came through to snatch a lucky win.
After the race, a dejected Neal said to ITV4: “What can I say, I beat myself up and i can only apologize. I’m gutted just to say the least”
His team-mate accepted the apology very graciously as he told ITV4: “It is what it is. It’s motor racing and it’s done now, we’re both competitive, we both want to win and we’ve obviously got a quick car so let’s look forward to race three.”
Collard meanwhile charged through the top five by passing Jordan at the hairpin, where he went on to finish in second when he nudged his way past Nash as his tyres began to suit the dampening weather late on. However, the move later got him a one second penalty as he was judged to have gained an advantage.
Despite the win, Plato remained furious with the speed of the Honda pairing in an interview with ITV4 after the race: “I dont want the say the wrong thing, but lets just open our eyes, t’s a joke. Look how the Honda just drove past us, we’ve got to have parity, and i want Alan Gow to come here and explain to the people at home what is going on”.
The result means Neal stays on 94 points, with only five points seperating him, Nash, Plato and Shedden in the championship.
The top nine cars are to be reversed for race three, meaning that Mat Jackson will start from pole position ahead of Foster and Paul O’Neill, while Shedden will start fourth with his team-mate Neal starting towards the back after blotting his copybook.
Race two results:
1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 31m12.569s
2. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 2.408s
3. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 3.317s
4. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 6.576s
5. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 6.864s
6. Gordon Shedden Honda + 7.647s
7. Paul O’Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 7.653s
8. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 8.042s
9. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 9.481s
10. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 9.859s
11. Lea Wood Central Honda + 11.051s
12. Rob Austin Austin Audi + 18.737s
13. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota + 19.290s
14. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 21.490s
15. Andy Neate Arena Ford + 25.756s
16. Tom Onslow-Cole AmD Volkswagen + 32.071s
17. Dave Newsham Special Tuning SEAT + 1 lap
18. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 1 lap DNF Matt Neal Honda 17 laps
DNF Chris James ES Chevrolet 15 laps
DNF Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 15 laps
DNF John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet 11 laps
DNF Tony Gilham Triple 8 Vauxhall 4 laps
DNF Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall 0 laps