Plato and Neate join Triple Eight MG squad for 2012Posted: January 25, 2012
Triple Eight has announced that Jason Plato will return to the team for the upcoming BTCC season, driving one of two brand new NGTC-specification MG6s as the MG marque makes its return to the series.
The deal marks 10-years since Plato won the 2001 BTCC title with the Oxfordshire-based giants in a Vauxhall Astra Coupe, and he will spearhead MG’s three-year programme in the series alongside Andy Neate, who will enter his third year in the series in a second car after years with West Surrey Racing and then Arena Ford.
Reigning Independents champions Triple Eight – who have scored over 100 wins for Vauxhall – will field the two MG6s built in the UK to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car regulations, including TOCA’s turbocharged engine, running under the MG KX Momentum Racing banner.
MG last raced in the series back in 2008 when Jason Hughes entered in an Independent MG ZS, a car which had been a part of the series since 2001 with West Surrey Racing where they picked up 11 BTCC victories during their participation, the last win coming in 2006 in the hands of Colin Turkington.
Double champion Plato meanwhile has won races driving for Renault, Vauxhall, SEAT and Chevrolet over his illustrious career, and believes he is in good shape with the new plans now in place.
“I think they’re going to be really exciting”, he said. “I think this year most of the front running cars will be running to NGTC full regulations so I think we’re in great shape. ”
Plato missed out on his third BTCC title last year, in a season that saw him battling the turbo-engined Honda Civics of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden in less powerful Chevrolet Cruze up to the final round at Silverstone, where he eventually finished in third place in the championship despite eight race wins that saw him take the record of most BTCC wins of all time along the way.
“A frustrating year, for lots of reasons but still a very rewarding year with eight wins”, said Plato.
“When the chips are down and things aren’t going your way you learn a lot about yourself and I think, as a team, we did a really good job this year. We evolved the car, without doubt we had the best chassis in the business, we just weren’t fast enough in a straight line, so the pain of not winning is gone now, onwards and upwards, but a good year.
“They (Honda) made the right choice to put a turbo engine in the car, and that served them well. Frustrating to see them dig deep and pull away on the straights but, you’ve got to win the thing and they won it well so congratulations to Matt and to Gordon.”
Plato is also upbeat about the future of the BTCC with it’s transition to the new NGTC regulations for 2013, and believes that he will be in very good shape for the upcoming season and beyond.
“I think we’re in a really good place with the BTCC. We’ve got this next year or two and 2013 everybody must adopt what we call the NGTC – Next Generation Touring Car – regulations. The championship TV package is unrivalled, it’s still really entertaining, the spectators numbers were up so I think we’re in good shape.
“And also, these new regulations will make that cost of entry a lot lower so there’ll be an opportunity for good Independents to come; the BTCC isn’t just about manufacturers, the Independents are very important.”