PLATO CROWNED CHAMPION AS RECORD 42,000 FLOCK TO SEASON FINALE AT BRANDS HATCH
Jason Plato won twice today at Brands Hatch to be crowned Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion for the second time in his career as a 42,000 crowd - a record for a BTCC event at one of the MotorSport Vision group's circuits - crammed into the world-famous Kent venue to see the final 2010 round of the UK's premier motor racing series.
Despite his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze carrying the maximum success ballast of 45kgs, Plato dominated the weekend with pole position on Saturday and lights-to-flag victories in today's first and second races. His win in race two was enough to add a second title to the one he won, also at Brands Hatch, in 2001. Furthermore, it meant he has equalled Andy Rouse's record of 60 race wins in the BTCC.
The final win of the season, in race three, then went the way of youngster Andrew Jordan who, from pole position on a reversed grid, led all the way for his second win of the season - and his career - in the Pirtek Racing team's Vauxhall Vectra, using BTCC organiser TOCA's new turbocharged NGTC engine.
Oxford's Plato commented: "The BTCC is one of the very best championships in the world so to win it is a very magical feeling. Everyone in my team, Chevrolet and RML who prepare the car, are the best in the business and also a great family of people so it's a very joyous experience winning it for them. Sixty wins sounds nice but not as nice as 61!"
He added: "When I first started in the BTCC in 1997 with the Renault team I knew we had a fantastic car and it duly won the championship that year. Mid-way through this season when we unlocked all the secrets of the Chevrolet Cruze I got that same feeling again. It has been a phenomenal car to race but, like I say, that's very much down to the people at Chevrolet and RML. Personally, I am of course delighted. I've been runner-up three times in the last four years so to finally get that second crown probably means I won't be such a pain in the backside to live with now!"
The three drivers who could have beaten Plato to the title today - Honda Racing Team team-mates Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden and Team Aon's Tom Onslow- Cole - duly finished second, third and fourth in the final standings. Neal finished third and then second in races one and two. The best Shedden could manage was second in race one although it should be noted that, between them, he and Neal have achieved ten wins - five apiece - out of the season's 30 races in their Honda Civics.
Other drivers to achieve podium results at Brands Hatch included WSR's Robert Collard with a third in race two, plus Airwaves BMW's Steven Kane and Team Aon's Tom Chilton, second and third in race three. Notably, that third place for Chilton in his unique LPG-turbocharged Ford Focus was enough to clinch him the Independent Drivers' title by just two points from Kane. Onslow-Cole, who'd led the standings comfortably arriving at Brands, slipped to third after retiring from all three races.
Honda/Dynamics held off Arena/Ford to lift the prestigious Manufacturers/Constructors Trophy, while the Honda Racing Team also ran out comfortable winners of the hotly-contested HiQ Teams Championship ahead of Team Aon. However, it is Team Aon which has taken Independent Teams' honours after a season-long battle with Airwaves BMW.
Elsewhere, two drivers were punished for on-track incidents at Brands Hatch. These were: Race 2: Mat Jackson - 2 penalty points on his competition licence and an official reprimand; Race 2: Sam Tordoff - pit lane drive-through penalty.