Plato closes in with dramatic win while Honda suffer punctures

Race one at Brands Hatch produced unbelievable drama in the championship as Jason Plato closed to within only six points of the two Honda drivers with victory while his Honda rivals failed to score after both suffering punctures.

Plato started from pole position and seemed to have everything go his way even before the race when the luckless Andrew Jordan didn’t even get to start the race from the front row after his Vauxhall suffered a power issue that meant the Eurotech Vectra wouldn’t start up.

Plato then made a superb getaway from the pole, and was followed through Paddock Hill Bend by team-mate Alex MacDowall and Honda’s Matt Neal, both displacing James Nash down to fourth place after a slow start.

MacDowall and Neal chased Plato in a three-car dice, ahead of another headed by Nash, with Mat Jackson and Gordon Shedden pressuring at the back of the group.

The battle soon became a five-car train with Paul O’Neill and Tom Onslow-Cole joining the pack, until there was drama on lap seven when Shedden made a big mistake when he lost the back end of the car at Graham Hill Bend when he put a wheel on the grass and slid off the road down to ninth.

The top three were never seperated by more than a few car lengths throughout, until there was huge drama on lap 10 when Neal suffered a right front puncture, dropping him out of the points.

The disaster from Honda was still not over as Shedden then suffered an identical tyre failure to his team-mate with a lap to go, meaning they finished pointless and in 18th and 19th respectively.

Plato meanwhile survived the race to take a comfortable seventh win of the season by just over two seconds, and close right back up in the championship.

“My car is just fantastic”, he told ITV4 You just watch how composed and flat and how well the car’s working at the moment, so I’m really pleased and relieved in a way because we didn’t do a race run yesterday. The Silverline Chevrolet is a bloody good car at the moment.”

“To be honest I’m not thinking about it (the championship) at the moment, we have to take each race as it goes and you see what just happened to Honda there, it can happen to anybody.”

Neal’s puncture offered Jackson a surprise opportunity to take third place from fifth as they caught the slowing Honda through Hawthorns. Jackson chose to go inside Honda while Nash chose the outside route, the Vauxhal driver running slightly wider and allowing Jackson’s Airwaves Ford through into third.

He then caught second place man MacDowall on the penultimate lap and mysteriously took the runner up spot from the Chevy driver with ease to follow Plato home and keep himself in championship contention.

Behind Nash in fourth, Onslow-Cole and the improved O’Neill were fifth and sixth, while Tom Chilton (Ford), Rob Collard (BMW), Andy Neate (Ford) and Nick Foster (BMW) rounded out the top 10.

In the late race drama, many cars littered the sides of the racetrack, one of them being Frank Wrathall who came off worst in an aggressive door-rubbing battle with Collard that broke the Toyota’s steering and sent him spinning through the Westfield grass.

Tom Boardman was also caught out by a puncture while running in a strong position, while his team-mate Dave Newsham retired with mechanical problems.

Plato could now take the championship lead in race two today as he will start from pole again, with the Hondas needing a fightback to the points, as well as maybe a setup change to avoid a repeat of race one.

Race one results:

1.  Jason Plato      Chevrolet              23m34.527s
2.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford           + 2.121s
3.  Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet                + 3.091s
4.  James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall        + 3.818s
5.  Tom Onslow-Cole  Arena Ford               + 4.574s
6.  Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet     + 5.019s
7.  Tom Chilton      Arena Ford               + 5.841s
8.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW                 + 12.720s
9.  Andy Neate       Arena Ford              + 13.174s
10.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW                 + 22.015s
11.  Ollie Jackson    Triple 8 Vauxhall       + 25.027s
12.  Michael Caine    Motorbase Ford          + 31.462s
13.  Rob Austin       Rob Austin Audi         + 32.885s
14.  John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet    + 33.368s
15.  Tony Gilham      Geoff Steel BMW         + 35.338s
16.  Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford          + 36.263s
17.  Chris Swanwick   Rob Austin Audi         + 55.514s
18.  Matt Neal        Honda                   + 57.918s
19.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                 + 1m11.024s
20.  Chris James      ES Chevrolet          + 1m12.716s
21.  Tony Hughes      Speedworks Toyota     + 1m16.324s
22.  Martin Byford    AmD Volkswagen            + 1 lap
23.  Tom Boardman     Special Tuning SEAT       + 1 lap
DNF     Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota             13laps
DNF     Lea Wood         Central Honda              9 laps
DNF     Dave Newsham     Special Tuning SEAT        8 laps
DNF     Daniel Welch     Welch Proton               6 laps
DNF     Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall          3 laps
DNS     Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxall           0 laps


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