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BTCC:
“Satisfaction” for Plato as Subaru plan comes to fruition

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September 3, 2017
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It goes without saying that Jason Plato would dearly love to be in teammate Ash Sutton’s position right now, leading the BTCC title race with two meetings to go.

But, as one of the key players in bringing Subaru to British touring car racing, the two-time champion takes a deep satisfaction in seeing a plan come to fruition.

With his own title ambitions wrecked by the handling repercussions of that crash in the season’s second race at Brands Hatch, Plato didn’t climb the podium until the season’s 15th outing at Croft.

He has had to watch Sutton make hay from the garage next door, his teammate’s stealthy progress through the field culminating in a 12-point championship lead after Rockingham last weekend.

“I’m a selfish racing driver! Show me a racing driver who doesn’t say it’s about me! I wish it was me, but it’s the next best thing, it’s a teammate, which is great,” he said.

“Obviously I’m disappointed I’m not the one who’s spraying lots of champagne and kissing pretty girls. But as one of the instigators of the project, I get enormous satisfaction out of it materialising and coming to fruition.

“It validates what our original theories were about the Levorg. We knew it could be a winning product if we could get the thing working properly.”

Rockingham proved another stellar weekend for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing and Team BMR, with James Cole converting pole position into his first BTCC win, Sutton taking second, first and fifth – finishing ahead of title rival Colin Turkington in each race – and Plato improving race to race from 10th, to fourth and third in the finale.

Jason Plato Rockingham BTCC

“It was a fantastic weekend for the team,” he said. “James did a brilliant job and drove exceptionally well. To convert a first pole into a first race win is no easy task.

“It’s great that the team’s up there in every race. We are in front of the cameras every single time the cars are out and that’s what our job is.

“We are going to do everything we can to get Ash across the line. We are all there to try and make it happen.”

As for Plato’s own weekend at Rockingham, he was not the only one caught out by changes to the track temperature for qualifying.

“I lost the feel from free practice one and two to qualifying,” he said. “I approached FP2 thinking I fancy myself for pole here. But in qualifying I could not brake very well, the circuit had changed, and the car was doing weird stuff.

“I was not the only one, Collard had that and quite a few others too. It knocked a few tenths off what my performance should or could have been.”

Starting 10th in race one, early skirmishes saw Plato knocked back through the pack.

“I got off the line really well but then got boxed out and shuffled back – the balls didn’t fall in my favour,” he added.

“Once I got in to clean air I was about a second a lap quicker, but we don’t have the straight line speed at the moment thanks to a boost reduction so it’s tough to surge from the back like the BMWs can.

“Where you qualify makes a huge difference. If you start on the front you’re guaranteed a good result because once in front our pace comes from the corner speed and we can hold people off.”

Nevertheless, Plato manoeuvred himself up to fourth in race two before just losing out in an epic battle with Adam Morgan’s Mercedes for second in race three. Plato BTCC Rockingham podium

“I kept on losing six or seven car lengths every straight, and you can’t overtake through the corners if you’re that far back,” he said.

“Overall, the weekend could have been a lot better for me and should have been. I could have had two wins if the balls had fallen my way.”

Now it’s on to Silverstone on September 16 and 17, where Plato fears the Subaru’s lack of straight-line speed will prove a major handicap to his own ambitions to reach BTCC win number 100 this season, as well as Sutton’s hopes of pulling further clear of Turkington.

“I want to win more races,” he said. “It is not beyond the realms of possibility for me to win two at Brands Hatch, where I’ve got a good record, but that means I’d have to win a race at Silverstone, which may be virtually impossible.

“There are some tricks to Silverstone but the most important trick is to have some horsepower.”

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