Plato gunning for Knockhill hat-trick after run of bad luck

Jason Plato is hoping for a change of fortune when the BTCC rolls into Knockhill this weekend.

In three of the last six races, the two-time champion has been squeezed, nudged and shunted out of contention, most recently when in a promising position at Rockingham.

“This run of luck is unbelievable,” he said. “It was all looking good until turn three at Rockingham. It’s bloody frustrating, and hopefully that’s the end of it now.”

Throwing the textbook out the window…

Greg Toth Photography. Also main image.

Plato had qualified ninth at the Northamptonshire circuit, the quickest rear wheel drive car and one place ahead of team-mate Ash Sutton.

In doing so, he believes he may have found a new way forward with the Subaru Levorg – by throwing the textbook out of the window.

“Ash and I were both experiencing the same issues, which is unusual in itself, and we were both saying the same thing,” he said.

“It appeared that the style to get the best out of the car we had in qualifying was a bit alien to me in that you had to completely ‘over-drive’ the thing.

“Normally, if you over-drive it one thing you’re always nervous of is asking too much of it. Once understeer sets in there’s no point asking for any more, because you’ll just kill the tyres.

“But for some strange reason, whether or not it was frustration I don’t know, I realised I’ve got this chassis balance and I’m just going to ask for more, started to go beyond the limit and got a better lap time.

“It wasn’t textbook, and it doesn’t feel right, but maybe there’s something in that moving forward.”

Plato nudged off the track resulting in a pit stop…

Greg Toth Photography.

Once the racing was underway, after avoiding a melee at the first corner, Plato was nudged off the track by Chris Smiley at turn three, and sustained damage to the rear of his car in race two, resulting in a pit stop following a mechanical warning flag.

Starting in 26th for race three, Plato weaved through the field to pick up points in 11th place, enjoying the advantage of the medium tyre.

“I enjoyed myself in race three because I was doing some overtaking, but it was also frustrating because I knew how much better we would be if not for the straight line speed issues,” he said.

“The only place I could overtake was on the outside of the hairpin, where we were quicker because of the chassis. So many times I could have overtaken cars had I not been 30hp down, but the fact is that’s not going to change.

“Meanwhile, you watch Tom Ingram go from the back of the grid to third…how do you do that?”

Fingers crossed for Scotland…

Greg Toth Photography.

Now it’s on to Scotland, where Plato has picked up a race win in the Subaru in each of the last two seasons.

It’s a course that heavily favours the rear wheel drive cars, and the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver is hoping the Levorg’s superior chassis will put him in with a shout of a good grid position.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ve just got to knuckle down, get the car set up as best we can and try and stick it on the front row, then keep our fingers crossed.

“A lot of time at Knockhill is spent in corners. There are a lot of traction-critical areas where rear wheel drive cars excel compared to front wheel drive.

“It’s been resurfaced, which should produce a better lap time. I was talking to Gordon Shedden, who thinks it should help the rear wheel drive advantage more, but we will have to wait and see – I normally do the opposite of what Gordon says!

“There are two decent sized straights there, and the engine is still really important with quite a big uphill drag from the hairpin, but the chassis can play an even more important role round there, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Plenty of rain is forecast for Sunday’s racing after a dry qualifying session.

“We’ve gone well round there in the wet and the dry, so what will be will be,” added Plato.

Racing is live on ITV4 from 11am on Sunday.

Find out more about Adrian Flux motorsport insurance.

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