MG KX Momentum Racing’s Jason Plato has returned to winning ways, in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, for the first time since round 11 after taking a double victory in rounds 25 and 26 of the championship held at Silverstone to take his career win total up to 80.
Reigning BTCC Champion Gordon Shedden took victory in the final race of the day in his Honda Yuasa Racing Civic. Nevertheless it was Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Civic who left Silverstone happiest after he took a best position of second during the day, to extend his lead at the top of the standings to 34 points with just 3 races remaining.
Since winning in round 11 of the championship Plato has suffered a terrible run of bad luck that has included a fire at Oulton Park, a poor tyre choice at Croft, mechanical failures and a roll at Snetterton, an uncompetitive car at Knockhill while at Rockingham once again like in 2012 the car was not suited to the damp conditions. As a result of this Plato’s title chances have disappeared, however heading into today’s races ballast free for race 1 and with perfect conditions the MG man was always going to find his winning touch.
Race 1 saw Plato take a comfortable victory, with his only challenge coming from team mate Sam Tordoff at the first corner when the MG youngster drew alongside his KX academy mentor, which saw Plato take the lead after having to run slightly wide after Tordoff got sideways mid corner. Even a brief safety car period couldn’t stop the MG’s in race 1 as they streaked ahead of the rest of the field to take their third 1-2 of 2013.
In contrast to race 1 the second of the races proved to be a much harder in counter for Plato as he was involved in a thrilling battle with Jordan. After holding the race lead from the start, Plato held a comfortable advantage early on but was caught later in the race by the Pirtek Racing Civic of Jordan, now ballast free from race 1 while Plato had maximum ballast following his race 1 success.
Jordan, despite leading the championship and needing points only to clinch his maiden BTCC crown, was desperate for the win and briefly took the lead before Plato nudged his way back past the current Independent champion. From then on until the end of the race the pair were engaged in a thrilling battle with the MG man eventually coming out on top.
After the race both Plato and Jordan knew they had been involved in a proper race with Plato saying, "Of all of the 80 victories I've had - that was one of the most enjoyable. From my perspective it was a brilliant race. I couldn't let him get the undercut on the exit of Copse which is where he was faster, and I had to change my rhythm and go really defensive. I knew if I could hold him off there then he wouldn't take the risk anywhere else. The move in the final corner worked really well here last year when I came through to win from the back, and our car is really good coming out of the slow corners like Luffield. It was key to block him in and keep fighting, and I really enjoyed it!"
Despite not winning the race Jordan equally enjoyed his battle and said, "I didn't come out on top, but that was a good touring car race and I really enjoyed it.”
Apart from that second in race 2 Jordan also managed 6th in race 1 and 5th in race 3 to head into the final meeting 34 points clear in the championship now over triple BTCC champion Matt Neal in the other Honda Yuasa Racing who, despite carrying a broken finger, took a double 3rd place even if in race 1 it was by just 0.008 of a second!
Jordan now heads to Brands Hatch in just two weeks hoping to secure his maiden BTCC crown and following Silverstone said, “Coming into the weekend I had it in my head that if I left with a 15 point buffer that’d be great, and I certainly didn't think there'd be any way we'd extend the lead so that’s a nice surprise. I'm keeping my feet on the ground – I could always get put into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend in race one and then there'd be everything to play for again, so there's a long way to go. I'd definitely prefer to be in my position than any of the guys behind me – I'm still going to be flat out for the last three.”
One man to see his title aspirations drift further away was eBay Motors driver Colin Turkington. The day started off well enough with fourth and Independent victory in race 1 and fifth in race 2 ,while in race 3 things looked certainly to be going the way of the BMW 125i M sport driver until a safety car period to pick up debris signalled the Northern Irishmen’s down fall.
Quickly, once the safety car came in, Turkington lost his lead along with another couple of places and was running fourth onto the penultimate lap until side by side contact with the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus of Mat Jackson, sent the BMW spinning at the first corner with rear suspension damage that saw Turkington crab into retirement.
As a result Turkington leaves the weekend 48 points behind Jordan and a frustrated man after the race 3 incident as he said, “It's really frustrating when someone who's not in the championship battle effectively ends mine. It would have been a bit easier to accept if I'd been scrapping with the front four guys and there had been a coming together and I come off worse, but Mat had nothing to gain from the move and that's what is hard to take. I can understand that he didn't mean it, but a bit more sympathy about how delicate my championship situation is would have been good. Although I can mathematically do it the car won't be significantly quicker than everybody else for me to be able to overturn that many points. I'll be fighting back at Brands Hatch, but realistically now my aim is the top three.”
After a podium in race 1 for second, Tordoff in the second MG KX Momentum Racing MG 6 couldn’t quite get back on the podium in race 2, just missing out in fourth, while in race 3 it looked like he was set to be a major challenger until a spin after contact with Neal.
The incident happened early on in the race after Tordoff had dived down the inside of the Honda into Luffield. However on the exit of the corner, Neal made right front to left rear contact on the MG spinning it frighteningly towards the barriers. Thankfully Tordoff didn’t hit anything and was able to continue, although following the spin the car wasn’t the same and 14th was all the former Porsche racer could manage.
As a result of that incident Neal kept his third place, which is where he ended the race, however received an official reprimand and two penalty points. The MG/Triple Eight team obviously felt that this wasn’t enough punishment and as such have appealed the decision which will be held at the Brands Hatch event in two weeks time.
The final driver to make the podium at Silverstone was Aron Smith who took a superb double podium for Airwaves Racing. 2013 has been a more than difficult year for the team after much was expected of them prior to the season. The team has shown flashes of what was expected of them during the season, most notably at Snetterton with a double podium, and now Smith and the team can certainly feel positive following Silverstone thanks to a 3rd in race 2 and second in race 3; Smith’s best position so far of 2013 where he also picked up Independent victory in the process.
Once again Silverstone must be classed as a disappointment/ missed opportunity for the Toyota drivers and teams particularly after such a positive Saturday for the trio. Newsham was highest placed Toyota driver for his Speedworks team during qualifying but an opening lap spin but an end to his bid for his maiden podium of 2013. He recovered to take 10th in that race while in race 3 he managed the highest place of the day from a Toyota driver overtaking double race winner Plato for 6th.
Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet Toyota Avensis carried on his miserable season finishing 14th in race 1, after running as high as 4th early on, before a lap 1 crash in race 2 brought an early end to his weekend. Meanwhile the final Toyota driver Adam Morgan, who has proved to be the star Toyota driver in 2013 in his Ciceley Avensis, managed in 7th in race 1 and produced a great drive through the pack in race 3 from the tail end of the grid to take 8th following retirement in race 2.
Other drivers to not enjoy the best of weekends included Tom Onslow-Cole, taking part in his second meeting for Airwaves Racing, and Rob Austin in his own prepared Wix Racing Audi A4, following his stunning maiden victory in the series last time at out Rockingham. Onslow-Cole managed a best position of 13th while Austin came back down to earth with a best of 12th. Both drivers were also involved in the opening lap incident during race 2 with Wrathall also eliminating the pair on the spot.
In the Jack Sears Trophy for the older S2000 spec cars, it was newly crowned champion Lea Wood who took an easy hat-trick of win in his Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing Vauxhall Vectra. The class took part this weekend with a season low of just two cars with Liam Griffin, the other competitor in his Addison Lee Motorbase Ford Focus, suffering a number of issues even failing to start race 3 leaving Wood a clear race to take class honours.