V For Victory
* Plato gives Vauxhall first BTCC title since 1995 * Vauxhall Astra Coupe takes 2001 BTCC by storm
Vauxhall Motorsport's Jason Plato took his first British Touring Car Championship title at Brands Hatch circuit last Sunday, October 7, giving the Luton marque its first BTCC title since 1995 and third in its BTCC history. To complete the clean sweep, Vauxhall has also taken the 2001 Champion Manufacturers' and Teams' titles.
In fact, Vauxhall's assault on the 2001 www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship has set a formidable benchmark for future marques competing in the re-styled BTCC with the Astra Coupe model having taken 25 out of 26 Touring car victories, 25 out of 26 pole positions and 73 of a total of 78 available podium positions. In addition, between the four Astra Coupe drivers; Vauxhall Motorsport's Jason Plato and Yvan Muller, and Egg Sport's James Thompson and Phil Bennett; the 2.0-litre front wheel drive model has posted every single fastest lap in each of the championship's 26 races.
"This has been a truly fantastic year for Vauxhall," commented a thrilled Vauxhall Motorsport Manager, Mike Nicholson. "The Astra Coupe has proven itself the class of the field and the car's potential has been maximised by our race team, Triple Eight Race Engineering, who have done a good job for us. What's more, we really couldn't have asked for four better drivers, each has given their all this year and provided some wonderful entertainment on the track. It has been a delight to have Egg Sport's James Thompson and Phil Bennett driving alongside the Vauxhall Motorsport team - they have played a crucial role in our taking the Champion Manufacturers' title. Our thanks must also go to Yvan who has been a vital member of the Vauxhall Motorsport team for three year's now. I feel he has been desperately unlucky in his endeavours to take the drivers' title and he has always conducted himself as a true professional."
Mike Nicholson continued, "Jason has driven with skill, speed and passion and has done Vauxhall proud. Vauxhall, in association with its partner, Triple Eight Race Engineering, now looks forward to putting together over the coming weeks the team with whom we shall defend our titles in the 2002 British Touring Car Championship."
After a season of immense pressure, Jason Plato has yet to feel the reality of his achievement: "I'm absolutely delighted but I don't think it's really sunk in yet! There has been a lot of heartache and frustration over the years to get here but this has made it so worthwhile. A big thank you, though, to everyone who has helped me over the years, the guys in the team at Triple Eight and to Vauxhall for giving me this opportunity. Whilst I'm the one who has won the championship, I couldn't have done it without them."
Vauxhall Motorsport Team Manager, Derek Warwick was equally emotional after the dramatic events of the weekend: "I'm extremely proud to have finished this season with 25 pole positions and 25 race wins - the guys have done a fantastic job and not just the team at race weekends but those back at the workshop too."
* Astra Coupe victories 25/26
* Astra Coupe podiums 73/78
* Astra Coupe pole positions 25/26
* Astra Coupe fastest race laps 26/26
* Vauxhall Motorsport victories 18/26
* Vauxhall Motorsport podiums 46/78
* Vauxhall Motorsport poles 16/26
* Egg Sport Team victories 7/26
* Egg Sport Team podiums 27/78
* Egg Sport Team poles 9/26
Vauxhall Motorsport Driver Statistics
* Plato 8x wins, 10x 2nds, 6x 3rds, 7x poles
* Muller 10x wins, 7x 2nds, 5x 3rds, 9x poles
Egg Sport Team Driver Statistics
* Thompson 4x wins, 6x 2nds, 9x 3rds, 4x poles
* Bennett 3x wins, 2x 2nds, 2x 3rds, 3x poles
* Priaulx 1x 2nd, 2x poles (Rds 19/20)