BTCC: Renault signs Plato

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 9/1/97 PLATO TO DRIVE SECOND WILLIAMS RENAULT Talented British youngster Jason Plato has landed the coveted number two seat in the Williams Renault team for this year's Auto...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 9/1/97

PLATO TO DRIVE SECOND WILLIAMS RENAULT

Talented British youngster Jason Plato has landed the coveted number two seat in the Williams Renault team for this year's Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, beating off challenges from two former Grand Prix stars for the drive.

Plato, 28, will partner Swiss ace Alain Menu, the man who claimed the BTCC runner-up spot in 1995 and '96 at the wheel of the potent Renault Laguna.

Plato is the reigning Renault Spider Cup Champion and a former Formula Renault frontrunner. He began his association with the marque in 1989, when he trained at the Elf Winfield Renault racing school in France.

Said Plato: 'It is a new challenge in my career and it's great that it will be with Renault, because I started my career with them and now I've hit the big time with them.

'I have a lot to learn but I have a great teacher in Alain Menu, who is considered by many to be the best of the drivers racing front-wheel- drive touring cars. It's difficult enough to get into touring cars but to get that opportunity with a top team like Williams is a dream come true. To borrow a line from the current Renault advertising campaign, it's all worked out brilliantly for Plato...'

Among the contenders for the Renault drive -- the last available works seat in the 97 Auto Trader Championship -- were F1 men Gianni Morbidelli and Jean-Christophe Boullion, both of whom tested the Laguna alongside Plato. The Renaults of Menu and Plato will join a field rich in talent for the first round of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on Easter Monday (Mar 31). Reigning champion Frank Biela is returning for Audi, partnered by John Bintcliffe; Vauxhall will field double BTCC champ John Cleland and ex-F1 driver Derek Warwick; Ford will be represented by double FIA Touring Car World Cup winner Paul Radisich and 1991 BTCC champion Will Hoy; while Honda will be running 94 champion Gabriele Tarquini and young British star James Thompson.

Two-car works teams are also to be fielded by Nissan (Anthony Reid and David Leslie), Peugeot (Tim Harvey and Patrick Watts) and Volvo (Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt). -- Official BTCC website http://www.demon.co.uk/racing/

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