Performance pain for Plato at Oulton Park

It was 10 seconds of action that perfectly summed up Jason Plato’s season and shined a bright light on his Subaru Levorg’s performance deficit.

Struggling towards the rear of the field in the third race at Oulton Park on Sunday, Plato led Aiden Moffat into turn three, only to see the Mercedes ease past on the exit and down the straight.

Soon after, the double BTCC champion – still without a championship point after 12 rounds – called time on his latest painful weekend and entered the pits.

A season hampered by a lack of engine punch

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

“That’s what we’re dealing with on every straight – and that move illustrated the point well,” he said, the frustration building with each race in a season hampered by a lack of engine punch.

“It’s pointless trying to defend that move because the other cars are in a different league at the moment.

“We are down on power and down on torque, and in that situation you can’t attack, and you can’t race. You’re just circulating and it’s very, very frustrating.

“With the team and engine builders, we’re busy looking through all the options to try to be more competitive at Croft, because we’ve got to find a solution to this problem, and fast.”

“… on my car we weren’t far off getting it really good…”

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

Plato qualified in 29th place out of 32, finishing 30th in race one and 20th in race two before calling it a day in the final race with more engine problems.

“We made quite a lot of changes to all the cars in the chassis pre qualifying, and on my car we weren’t far off getting it really good,” he said.

“I had a bit too much understeer, which cost me three or four 10ths of a second a lap, but there was no more left in the tank. Ash [Sutton] was right on the edge to get a time on the board and that lap he pulled out was the very best any of us could have done.”

Sutton qualified in 15th, but suffered the same engine performance issues, finishing 21st and 23rd, before taking advantage of accidents in race three to pick up points in 13th.

“I made up some places in race two when others crashed and I happened to go the right way, but I didn’t genuinely overtake one car all weekend,” said Plato, who gave some insight into the issues facing the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Levorg.

“We don’t have enough boost, and there are mathematical reasons for that which are quite complicated. It means we are consistently having to run at detonation point to get the best from what we’ve got.

“That has a knock-on effect on reliability because we are pushing things to breaking point.”

Everyone hopes improvements can be found quickly

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

Engine cooling issues have also hampered the Subaru’s performance, with the engine set to dial down performance when it gets too hot.

“The car is making a lot of heat and when you’re in traffic you lose a proportion of radiator cooling,” he explained.

“Once the temperature gets to a certain point, it dials out maybe 15hp, which compounds the performance deficit we already have.

“If you push and push then you run the risk of ruining the engine, and that’s a load of money down the drain for the team.”

Team BMR released a race report this week thanking everyone for their loyal support at the Cheshire circuit.

The team says it will continue to back engine provider Swindon Powertrain, pledging to work hard to deliver more performance and improve results.

With just over a week until the next outing at Croft on June 23 and 24, everyone connected with the team will be hoping those improvements can be found quickly.

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