BTCC: Plato wins dramatic Brands Hatch second race

Jason Plato took his sixth win of the season in the second race at Brands Hatch. The SEAT Sport UK driver held on, despite two Safety Car periods, to win from pole position holder Turkington by under one second. Turkington lined up in pole ...

Jason Plato took his sixth win of the season in the second race at Brands Hatch. The SEAT Sport UK driver held on, despite two Safety Car periods, to win from pole position holder Turkington by under one second.

Turkington lined up in pole position thanks to Michael Bentwood's penalty in the first race. Plato joined him on the front row in a now-familiar tactic where the SEAT driver forfeits a good result in race one for a good grid position in race two under the reverse grid rule. Shaun Watson-Smith started third with Plato's team-mate Robert Huff in fourth place.

Turkington made a good start and kept the lead on the inside. Plato's start was not as good and he moved over to the inside to block Watson-Smith. This manoeuvre also blocked Huff who had made a great start and had gone for the gap, and then Huff was nudged by Watson-Smith and lost momentum. This blocking allowed Tom Chilton up the inside from fifth place and Luke Hines tried to follow the Honda through as well.

Yvan Muller didn't want to throw away a great start and, instead of backing off as Hines moved across in front of him, he took to the exit of the pit road to get alongside Hines. As the road narrowed the pair touched and Hines was sent into a high-speed spin at the top of Paddock Hill Bend. He recovered, as several cars took to the grass in avoidance, and everyone was able to continue.

Turkington led with Plato right behind him, Watson-Smith in third, Chilton fourth, and Huff in fifth after overtaking James Thompson on the inside at Druids hairpin. Plato followed Turkington very closely on the first lap before diving for the inside at McLaren. The pair went down the pit straight side-by-side and, despite Turkington being slightly faster in a straight line, Plato held the inside line and moved ahead at Paddock Hill Bend.

Watson-Smith's great run did not last much longer as the Team Petronas Syntium Proton driver lost control in Paddock Hill Bend and the car went on a long slow spin across the track, stopping in the gravel on the inside of the circuit. Huff got a great exit from Druids and was able to close up on Chilton and eventually pass him for third place at Surtees. The move was well-timed as the Safety Car was brought out so that the marshals could remove Watson-Smith's Proton.

Plato led the cars around slowly as the Safety Car peeled off into the pits. After an initial twitch, which forced Turkington to back off, he put the power down as he crossed the line in the lead. Huff attacked Turkington and tried to dive down the inside at Druids but the MG ZS driver moved across to block the move.

Thompson tried to attack Chilton for fourth place but Chilton squeezed him on the outside. Thompson responded on the following straight by pulling out and comfortably passing the Honda Civic Type-R. Smoke then started pouring from the left-rear tyre of Chilton's car as it was rubbing against bodywork. This damage slowed him down as both Neal and then Kaye passed him along the pit straight. On the next lap the car twitched out of control sending Chilton into the gravel and out of contention.

Carl Breeze and Robert Collard were battling hard for ninth place and the pair touched several times around the circuit. They battled too hard on lap seventeen and tangled on the approach to Druids. Breeze's car was sent sharply to the right across the front of Collard who then backed off and tried to go around the outside of the spinning car. Breeze's car kept going, however, and clouted Collard sending him into the gravel and allowing Breeze to continue albeit it with damage to the front of his car. The Safety Car was deployed while the stricken Vauxhall Astra Coupe was pulled to safety.

Plato, Turkington and Huff all pulled away again at the restart. Muller was again involved in an incident, this time on the receiving end, as he was nudged by Michael Bentwood and this forced Muller off-line and ultimately allowed Bentwood past at Druids. Muller's car twitched at the same point on the next lap and this allowed Dan Eaves alongside into Druids. Muller was able to hold on but the battle allowed the leaders to pull away. Turkington held onto second place despite being pushed most of the way around Druids by Huff and coming under immense pressure for the remainder of the race.

The battle between Turkington and Huff allowed Plato to pull away slightly and he crossed the line to win the race. Turkington and Huff remained in that order and Thompson followed them through to finish fourth. Plato has now won the second race five times so far this season.

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