Plato closes in with dramatic win while Honda suffer puncturesPosted: October 2, 2011 Filed under: British Touring Cars | Tags: Alex macDowall, Brands Hatch, BTCC 2011, BTCC Brands Hatch, Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing, James Nash, Jason Plato, Mat Jackson, Matt Neal, Silverline Chevrolet Leave a comment
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