It’s been an intriguing sub-plot to the BTCC season so far: a tale of two Subarus, one racing at the sharp end in the hands of a talented young driver, and one struggling to recover from an early accident with a touring car legend at the wheel.
While Ash Sutton built on his early-season podiums with a first championship win for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing at Oulton Park, Jason Plato finished exactly where he’d predicted – midfield, with a 12th and two 11th-placed finishes.
It was an improvement for Plato on his disastrous showing at Thruxton, aided by an increased boost provided for the weekend by TOCA.
But it’s clearly not where the two-time champion wants to be, and handling issues remain following the shunt at Brands Hatch in the season’s second race.
The winner of 96 touring car races is determined to get to the root of the problem – by jumping in Sutton’s car on a day of extensive testing and tweaking on Tuesday.
“I’ll be driving Ash’s car next Tuesday to help us find out what’s what. We need a day away with the two cars to work it out,” said Plato.
“There’s progress on my car at times but we’re still trying to fathom what exactly is wrong with it. At the moment it still won’t do what we want it to do. Mine is not responding in the same way as the other cars – we made changes on the other cars and got the same reaction from each, but made the same changes on my car and there was no reaction, so something’s not working.
“Ash drove mine before the accident and said ‘I want exactly what he’s got!’.
As for the racing at Oulton Park itself, Sutton further increased his profile with a series of superb drives, weaving through to take third in race one, storming clear on soft tyres to win race two, and superbly holding off Colin Turkington’s BMW to cling on to fourth in race three.
“The organisers gave us increased boost on Saturday morning and then increased it a little further on Sunday morning and it made a big difference,” said Plato.
“Big thanks to TOCA for measuring the on-track performance of our engines and giving us a little more power. We’re still a little bit down on power but a lot closer than we were, and we’re making progress.
“The car still can’t quite do what a Honda and a BMW can do because it hasn’t got the same power.”
All eyes now turn to Croft on June 10 and 11, with Plato hoping his Subaru will finally be ready to challenge in the north east.
“Fingers crossed we will have a good test next Tuesday and we will find out what the issue is and if we can resolve it we should be back at the sharp end,” he said.
Live coverage of the racing is live on ITV4 on Sunday, June 11.