It's a Win, Win, Win Situation for Plato, Silverline, Chevrolet and RML! A hat-trick of wins for Racing Silverline's Jason Plato driving his Chevrolet in yesterday's HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch not only bought the ...
It's a Win, Win, Win Situation for Plato, Silverline, Chevrolet and RML!
A hat-trick of wins for Racing Silverline's Jason Plato driving his Chevrolet in yesterday's HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch not only bought the season to a dramatic and thrilling end, but it also saw Jason finish runner up in the championship standings, leaping ahead of VX Racing's Fabrizio Giovanardi and trailing 2009 champion, Colin Turkington, by a mere five points.
Having qualified 2nd for race one, the Oxfordshire driver made a good start, defending from Giovanardi. An incident involving Hamilton and Johnson caused a short safety car period but the race remained relatively low-key for Jason, as he closed in on Ford Aon's Chilton.
Holding enough margin over third placed man and championship rival, Giovanardi, Jason ensured he could comfortably afford to focus on the car ahead. Edging closer to the Ford over the closing laps, Jason made an impressive, yet tense last lap last corner pass to claim his fifth win of the season and closed in to within fourteen points of championship leader, Turkington.
Speaking after the race, Jason said, "Tom drove exceptionally well, but I knew that if I could get close on the last couple of laps, he'd be a bit twitchy, and a bit tense. And that's what happened. I was a bit quicker, but just couldn't pass. Then I got the run on him. It was a great race, we needed to win that. And I got a fastest lap. Things are looking good. I think a second win is on the cards today."
Again lining up 2nd on the grid for race two, Jason made a clean start and despite not taking the lead from Chilton, managed to keep Giovanardi at bay.
As with the first race, it was again relatively calm for the race-one winner over the opening laps, with Jason biding his time and building momentum enough to pass Chilton's Ford. Despite coming under increasing pressure from Giovanardi, Jason held pace to the end, making his move on the fifteenth lap as he swept ahead of Chilton into Druids Hill Bend for the lead and win number two.
Jason was now just eight points behind Turkington in the championship and four behind second-placed, Giovanardi.
Commenting on his second race victory, Jason concluded, "This is what touring car racing is all about. It's a fantastic fight for the championship. Technically I have been out of it as a distant contender, but I am pleased we are making a race of it. We're doing a great job for the sponsors - Silverline, Matchthedeal.com, Auto Windscreens, Tesco 99 - and repaying them for their support at the beginning when we didn't have anything."
The reverse grid placed Jason 8th on the grid for race three, with Turkington in 6th and Giovanardi in 7th. Off the line, Jason maintained position but by the end of the first lap had worked his way up to 6th place and with it all to play for, took the fight to Onslow-Cole. Once ahead of the Ford, Jason closed to within striking distance of Giovanardi and as the pair raced nail- bitingly close, it was the Chevrolet Lacetti that came out in front on the start-straight as the Italian lost ground from a failed move on race leader, Turkington.
Racing on the outside of the orange BMW into Graham Hill Bend, Jason pounced ahead of Turkington in a fraught second of fearless racing. Sprinting off into the distance and already with a gap of 1.579s over second place by the 11th lap, Jason stole the show and took the Chevrolet to the chequered flag for the third time having relished every minute on one his favourite circuits.
An emphatic Jason summarised, "It's been a brilliant weekend for us, we can't ask for any more than that. For the second half of the year we've had the pace. We had a few little reliability issues and I made some mistakes at the beginning of the year, so it just shows how far we've come.
We're out to win races and what a series this is. It's a great end to the year. If I couldn't have won the championship today, which was a long shot, than I would at least want to go out with a bang, which is exactly what we've achieved here today with three race wins - something I've not achieved before."
On the other side of the garage, it wasn't such a happy ending for team mate, Mat Jackson, who endured a disappointing weekend. Despite making a good start and defending off the line in race one, Mat once again found himself the victim of a VX Racing attack, this time from Matt Neal.
Drifting around the corner, Mat looked to have control of the Lacetti before he ran wide and skipped across the grassy run off. He rejoined the track down in 13th place and once the safety car peeled into the pit lane by the end of lap 3, was hopeful of climbing back up the field just as he had at Rockingham three weeks before. But, running wide across the gravel with a lack of grip on the fifth lap, Mat was unable to make an impression on the top ten and finished the race P12.
Frustratingly for Mat and the Racing Silverline team, he didn't fare much better in the second race. Battling with understeer and a lack of grip for most of the weekend, Mat finished 12th.
A brief glimpse of a change in fortune for race three saw Mat running in 6th position, which would have secured his 4th place in the championship, however Team RAC's Reid forced him off track and the recovering Lacetti slipped down the field, crossing the finish line in 11th place. It was a bitter blow for Mat and the team as race one aggressor, Neal, scored enough to regain 4th in the championship standings, demoting Mat to 5th.
Despite his frustration, Mat remained philosophical and summarised, "It's been a disappointing weekend for me. I think race one could have been a good one, starting form 6th, but the incident with Matt all but ruined that one for me. Then in race three I was running in 6th when I was hit by Reid. Until that point, I'd have kept my hold on 4th in the standings, which would have been great for me given how the season first started. But that's racing. Some days are good, some not. I've had some great results this year including four race wins and have enjoyed some brilliant racing. Jason's done a great job all weekend so I'm really pleased for him and the Racing Silverline team."