SHEDDEN, NEAL & PLATO WIN AT KNOCKHILL AS TITLE RACE HEADS TO DONINGTON PARK Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Jason Plato shared the wins in today's highly-unpredictable three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the spectacular ...
SHEDDEN, NEAL & PLATO WIN AT KNOCKHILL AS TITLE RACE HEADS TO DONINGTON PARK
Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Jason Plato shared the wins in today's highly-unpredictable three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the spectacular Knockhill circuit in Fife. Plato's victory in the third in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze means he has stretched his championship lead over Neal as the UK's favourite motor racing series now heads south for its penultimate three races of 2010 at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire on Sunday 19 September.
Honda Racing Team driver Shedden's victory on his home track in race one was just what the crowd wanted, but he was lucky to survive two sideways moments on the opening lap as (pictured above) Plato's young team-mate Alex MacDowall, who'd started from pole position, attacked him before settling for a best-ever second position. Third was Airwaves BMW's Steven Kane.
It was Neal's turn to taste the victory champagne in race two as he overtook the sister Civic of Shedden on the opening lap to lead his Scottish team-mate across the line for a Honda 1-2 ahead of Plato who took third after a robust move on Kane in the closing laps.
Plato then took the spoils in race three after eventually figuring a way past Tom Onslow-Cole's Team Aon Ford Focus which, having led from the reversed grid pole position, took second spot ahead of a fast-closing Neal in third. Notably, behind, both Shedden and another of the chief title protagonists, Aon's Tom Chilton, suffered spins and could only come home in ninth and tenth positions.
As a result, Plato leaves Scotland with an increased 20-point advantage over Neal who has moved five points clear of third-placed Onslow-Cole. Shedden is a further nine points behind with Chilton a distant fifth, another 26 adrift with a maximum of 104 still available from Donington and Brands Hatch's (10 October) final six races.
Oxford-based Plato, the 2001 Champion, said: "We've been there or thereabouts today but it's been thirsty work and to grab a win in the final race of the day is a big bonus for our championship. Donington should suit our car better than here but I'm not counting my chickens… I've lost this thing far more times than I've won it."
Worcestershire's Neal, Champion in 2005 and 2006, commented: "I've taken the biggest points score of anyone here today and it was important to capitalise on what we knew would be a great circuit for the Civic. Gordon had a rough time in race three but I wouldn't rule him out at all either. I get the feeling, though, it'll be the turn of the Fords at Donington - their LPG-turbo engines might have the beating of us on the long straights and the uphill sections there."
New Malden racer Onslow-Cole, still only 23 and who now finds himself embroiled in a title battle against two giants of the series in Plato and Neal, added: "It's been a very tough weekend - I was playing catch-up after some issues in free practice yesterday and then I woke up ill this morning! But still we've picked up a healthy dose of points. I hope what Matt says comes true and it swings back our way at Donington!"
Meanwhile, Shedden's and Neal's results at Knockhill have taken Honda/Dynamics past Arena/Ford to the head of the Manufacturers/Constructors standings by the slender margin of just two points. The Honda Racing Team, though, has significantly increased its HiQ Teams Championship lead over Team Aon from four to 31 points. Onslow-Cole has now edged 22 points clear of Kane at the top of the Independent Drivers' table and Team Aon is also edging nearer the Independent Teams' title, its lead over Airwaves BMW having gone out from 16 to 21 points.
Elsewhere, four drivers were punished for on-track incidents at Knockhill, each for driving in a manner incompatible with general safety, departing from the standards of a reasonably competent driver. These included: Race 1: Mat Jackson - fined £250 & 3 penalty points; Race 2: Tom Chilton & Jason Plato - both officially reprimanded & 3 penalty points; Race 3: Jeff Smith - officially reprimanded, fined £250 & 3 penalty points.