BTCC reaches penultimate event at Donington

BTCC reaches penultimate event at Donington

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will this weekend visit the newly reopened Donington Park circuit in the midlands for the series 2010 penultimate rounds 25, 26, and 27, in Derby, England. Jason Plato at Knockhill. Photo...

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will this weekend visit the newly reopened Donington Park circuit in the midlands for the series 2010 penultimate rounds 25, 26, and 27, in Derby, England.

Jason Plato at Knockhill.
Photo by Pat Cranham.

Jason Plato currently heads the standings although mathematically amazingly the top eight can win the title, although realistically it will come down to a fight between Plato, Matt Neal for Honda Racing and Tom Onslow-Cole for Team Aon with their team mates Gordon Shedden and Tom Chilton also having an outside chance of winning.

The Silverline Chevrolet racer goes into the weekend with a 22-point lead. Victory in race 3 at Knockhill not only helped Plato extend his lead but also took his win tally to just 2 race wins away from equalling the all-time BTCC record of 60 wins set by Andy Rouse.

Meanwhile at the other end of the scale Plato's team mate Alex MacDowall is still looking for his first victory. Last season's Clio racer has suffered a tough first year in the BTCC but yet has shown incredible pace out qualifying Plato more often than not although he has had minimum added ballast compared to 45kg of the 2001 champion.

Last time out MacDowall had his best drive so far this season taking his second pole position of the season and ended up taking second place: "It was great to be on pole position again at Knockhill but second isn't what I want, I want to win. We're on a real high now and I think my car is doing everything I want it to do. I've gone well at Donington in the past, finishing on the podium, but the top step is my goal this time for my first visit there in a touring car. We should certainly have the most capable car at Donington, the Silverline Chevrolet Cruze thrives on fast flowing corners. It's getting close to the end of the season so I will be treating every race like it's my last one. My aim by the end of the season is to end up in the championship top 10, I'm currently four points off 10th place so we've got a great chance."

Matt Neal leading teammate Gordon Shedden at Knockhill.
Photo by Pat Cranham.

Matt Neal retook second position in the championship following Knockhill where he scored two podiums including one victory and ended the day as highest points scorer.

Neal had been leading the championship at the half way stage of the championship but suffered a tough weekend at Silverstone following an up and down meeting at Snetterton.

The double BTCC champion now has an uphill battle to climb if he wants to make it a third and admits he has nothing to lose saying, "Someone asked me what I've got left and the simple answer is I've got nothing to lose. It's totally Jason's to lose, whereas if I crash out or it doesn't work then I have lost nothing. At the minute I'm second - first of the losers.

"As far as I'm concerned I'm going to these final two events with the same approach as if I were starting the season from afresh. I can't not go for it so there'll be no settling for points finishes. We've now got all the bolt-on goodies on our car, the Civic, to make it go as fast as possible - we had the up-rated engine at Silverstone and now improved dampers at the front-end. There is no more to come now this season. I also think the Fords have got something in their back pockets. They will be strong at Donington but they will be even stronger at Brands and Jason I'm sure is going to be quick everywhere. For both of them to mess up I am going to have to put them under pressure so that leaves me with no option but to go on maximum attack," added Neal.

Onslow-Cole is currently the driver who has lead the most laps and miles so far this season but sees himself currently 26 points behind Plato in the standings. After losing valuable points due to team orders at Silverstone, although taking three podiums, he then suffered to bruising races at Knockhill.

Tom Onslow-Cole held the early lead at Knockhill over Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden.
Photo by Pat Cranham.

A second in the last race of the day was a good comeback but unfortunately for him Plato beat him in that race. Onslow-Cole said after Knockhill that ... "it was frustrating at the start of the weekend because we had a braking problem in testing which cost us valuable set-up time. We ended up scoring a palmful of points over the opening two races, rather than the handful we were looking for, but we have kept ourselves in the hunt which is the important thing."

Joining the BTCC pack this weekend will be veteran BTCC James Kaye. He was last seen racing in the BTCC back in 2006 for Syncro Motorsport in a Honda Civic where he managed his only podium to date in the BTCC. Before that Kaye was twice BTCC Independents trophy winner as well as 2002 BTC production cup champion.

Kaye will continue his association of racing Hondas with whom he was a works driver for in the mid-nineties by racing an Integra run by WRC Developments with Barwell Motorsport again who he has long been involved with. Kaye will be given number 46, which also matches his age.

So that's how the BTCC goes into the penultimate event of the season. If it didn't need exciting already the weather is also forecasted to add another spanner to the works. So be sure to return to during and after the weekend to see who will be in pole position heading to Brands for the final meeting of the year.

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Tom Chilton , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , James Kaye , Andy Rouse , Tom Onslow-Cole , Gordon Shedden , Alex MacDowall