Straight line speed hampering Plato’s quest for points

Mark Twain said that facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.

Sometimes, however, they are one and the same, and among the reams of data compiled by timing specialists TSL at Donington Park – all 112 pages of them – lurks the fundamental issue facing Jason Plato, his teammates, and engineers.

All three Subarus are rooted at, or very near to, the foot of the speed trap tables on the straights, losing at least 3mph, and sometimes nearly 5mph, on the quickest cars on the grid.

“It might sound like excuses, but it’s fact.”

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography (Also main image)

Having finally rid his Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Levorg of its chronic understeer, Plato finds himself battling with an equally critical problem: a lack of engine grunt.

While we may sometimes wish they did, speed traps don’t lie, and the data shows that coming out of the chicane towards the finish line at Donington, Plato, Ash Sutton and Josh Price’s Subarus are being comprehensively outgunned by just about every other car on the grid.

“We have a monumental problem in a straight line – there’s just nothing there down the straight,” said the two-time BTCC champion.

“Our car down the straight is not in the same league as every other car. On some laps coming out of the chicane at about 60mph to the finish line we’re losing up to 5mph. In race terms, that’s game over.

“Our problem is not at the end of the straight – it’s the first half of it. Up to 110mph we are miles away and that’s torque and power.

“It might sound like excuses, but it’s fact. It’s clear to see, whether I’m in the car on the track or you’re watching from the stands.”

Lack of torque is what’s blighting progress

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

The Focus RSs of Tom Chilton and Sam Tordoff, along with Mike Bushell’s Volkswagen CC, topped the charts on the speed traps on sectors 3 and 4, where torque and horsepower pull the cars out of the corners down the straights.

“The Focus is insane down the straight,” said Plato. “Tom Chilton left the road in front of me on the exit of turn one, was bumbling about on the grass, I got closing speed on him, he gets back on the tarmac and just pulls away.”

While the Subaru remains quick through the corners, Plato revealed how the lack of torque leaving the exits makes it almost impossible to make progress through the field.

Not only that, but it blunts the instincts of a naturally attacking racing driver reduced to a more conservative style simply to maintain position.

“The only people making progress through the field are the ones with big horsepower,” he said.

“If there are three cars in front of me and three behind me, what I constantly have to do is to not attack the cars in front because if I do they will defend, which kills my corner speed and the guys behind just drive past on the straight.

“If it concertinas up on the corners then I‘m a sitting duck from the exit down the straight. I end up thinking ‘am I better going a bit slower mid corner to let the guys in front disappear so I can maintain my position?’”

Confident he’ll be back among the points

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

It’s anathema to a driver used to racing at the sharp end for the vast majority of a glittering career and, if it’s painful to watch for his army of fans, it’s nothing compared to the frustrations of the man in the driver’s seat.

After a driveshaft failure on Saturday, Plato recovered to qualify in the wet in 21st place.

“It was not until the last 10 minutes of qualifying did we sort the car out in the wet,” he said.

“We’ve moved in a direction through Brands and Thruxton test day to give the car much more front grip, and consequently we’ve been struggling with rear grip. Historically the old settings were pretty good in the wet, so it took us a while to get the thing working in the wet on the new settings.”

The good news is that Plato is finally happy with the how the car is handling, despite finishing down the pack in all three races.

“In a nutshell we have the car sussed,” he said. “I’ve got a really good handle on the car now and I’m confident on working with the chassis. There’s a real good feel in the car – in the races it was pretty good in terms of balance.”

All that’s left is to add a little more bite to that new Swindon engine and Plato is confident he will soon be back among the points.

Do you need vehicle transporter insurance? Take a look at our policy.

Related Articles

Elaine Southworth tells us about how the Adrian Flux-backed Daddy Cool drag racing team has now become a real family affair.
Adrian Flux are one of the chief partners for a brand new racing team, Brundle Motorsport, fronted by Alex Brundle.
Commentator and fellow racer Alex Brundle details how you can save money on your car insurance.
Asha Silva and Anji Silva Vadgama are two of Team BRIT’s newest drivers, but they’re already making big waves in the motorsport scene.