Get a quote

Late curveball upsets Plato’s Subaru at Brand Hatch

Words by
April 7, 2017
Share this:

It’s fair to say, it wasn’t meant to be like this.

After a successful winter of development, Jason Plato and his Adrian Flux Subaru Racing team were confident of building on last season’s steady improvement and taking the BTCC season opener at Brands Hatch by storm.

But a late, late spanner was thrown in the works by new rules that appear to have upset the Subaru’s low-slung centre of gravity.

Plato, and his fellow Team BMR drivers Ash Sutton, James Cole and Josh Price, were hampered all weekend by the adjustments, with Plato’s 12th place in the opening race the team’s best-placed finish.

“It was a disaster to be honest,” said the twice champion, whose crash at the start of race two ruled him out of the third race.

“A curveball came in in the week before Brands Hatch. We could not get the cars working properly at all.

“There were some adjustments late to the cars and now we’re working out how to try to make them work. But the new settings we’ve had to run have thrown a spanner in the works for the time being.”

Plato wouldn’t say any more about the nature of the adjustments, but Matt James, writing in Autosport, gave an insight to the issues faced by the Team BMR engineers.

“The car was designed and built because it had an advantageous boxer-style engine, which carries the mass of its weight low down. Those who had studied the rulebook – and it wasn’t only Team BMR, others had done it too – realised that a Subaru could be the magic bullet when it came to getting the most from the current British Touring Car Championship rulebook,” he said.

“But it was BMR that tempted the Japanese firm to throw its weight behind the campaign and get involved.

“Now, for 2017, the rules have been amended and that has, at the moment, given the team a mountain to climb. That move was made because the car was a six-time race winner in 2016, but it looks a very long way from being a winner now.

“The car has tested with some elements of the revamped rules but, when the final settings where applied at Brands, it was a disaster.   

“Watching the rear-wheel-drive cars from trackside, it appears that the problems run very deep. The estate-shaped Subaru was an animal going into the corners and its drivers were on a voyage of discovery every time they even tried to look at an apex.”

The BTCC organisers have often faced down complaints from teams about the equalisation-of-turbo-boost formula in place, but by seemingly imposing adjustments targeting the Subaru’s handling advantage, they’ve opened a whole new can of worms.

Plato straight-batted the issue: “We’ve made some improvements to the car since the end of last season, but we had to run the car in the current configuration at Brands Hatch and that didn’t work, and now we need to work out how we can move forward to Donington.

“When we tested at Donington before the season we had a very good feel and I was very confident.

“My car is being prepared so the guys have got a massive job in getting it all ready – they’re flat out because there was an awful lot of damage.”

The second round is at Donington Park on April 15 and 16, live on ITV4.

Related Articles

Get a free insurance quote for your vehicle

Get a Free Quote