Jason Plato scored a fairytale win for SEAT in only their second race in the British Touring Car Championship. Astute driving by the former champion in the first race ensured a good grid position in race two and Plato took full advantage of all...
Jason Plato scored a fairytale win for SEAT in only their second race in the British Touring Car Championship. Astute driving by the former champion in the first race ensured a good grid position in race two and Plato took full advantage of all the situations in the race to take the lead on lap seven and hold off Vauxhall's Yvan Muller to the chequered flag.
The grid for the second race saw the introduction of the reversed grid with the top ten finishers in the first race having their race position reversed . Consequently race one winner James Thompson started from tenth place whereas tenth placed Chilton started on pole position with Shaun Watson-Smith alongside him on the front row, Plato in third and Bentwood in fourth. In addition to the grid positions the cars had success ballast applied ranging from Chilton’s car being 24kg lighter to Thompson’s car being 42kg heavier.
Chilton looked set to pull away into the distance at the start as his unfortunate race one result did not represent his true potential, but the Honda Civic Type-R driver made an appalling start and crept away from the line and the field flooded past. Incredibly it was Dan Eaves, starting from sixth place, that made the best start and flew round the outside of the other drivers to move to the front by the first corner. He met some resistance from Jason Plato on the inside of the corner but Eaves forced Plato onto the kerb and, with two wheels in the air, Plato slotted in behind Eaves on the exit of the corner.
Shaun Watson-Smith nearly threw away his third place with a mistake at the Campbell complex but he regained control of his car. Behind him Huff managed to move past team-mate Plato. At then end of the lap Charlie Butler-Henderson pitted with accident damage and was also awarded a drive-through penalty for a jump start.
There was drama on lap two after a collision between Neal and Thompson, running in seventh and eighth respectively, resulted in Neal ending up in the tyre barriers and Thompson stopping on the circuit with a broken wheel. The damage was sufficient to bring out the Safety Car and the cars toured round for three laps before the restart on lap six.
Eaves kept his lead despite immense pressure from Jason Plato. Behind him Bentwood blocked Watson-Smith at the chicane causing Watson-Smith to be hit by Huff. Both drivers continued but Huff then spun off later round the circuit and toured back to the pit lane to retire with brake failure.
Muller, in third place, started to attack Plato in second on lap seven but the pair benefited from a mistake by leader Eaves who ran wide at Campbell. He lost just half a second but this was enough to allow Muller, and then Plato, past him. Plato tried to pull away leaving Muller, Eaves and Bentwood fighting for second but he wasn’t able to escape and instead led a four car fight around the circuit, with Collard closing up in fifth place.
Butler-Henderson was award another drive-through penalty which he took. Jason Hughes car started to sound rough as in the first race but he continued albeit around one and a half seconds slower and Paul Wallace retired in the pit lane with high temperatures.
Watson-Smith’s eventual race suffered yet another incident at Campbell. He collided with Chilton going into the chicane and was forced to run wide and onto the grass. Chilton suffered damage in the accident and was forced to pit for new tyres and then pulled out of the race as he exited the pits.
Plato and Muller were now pulling away and on lap thirteen the third-placed Bentwood, who had just passed Eaves at the final chicane, squeezed Eaves onto the inside of the first corner as he tried to respond and defended hard on the exit. Eaves then fell back into the clutches of Collard who himself had Hines all over the back of him.
Muller gradually started to close on leader Plato over the closing laps over what promised to be a dramatic last lap but Plato, despite a couple of scrappy moments as he ran wide, was equal to the task and held enough of a gap to ensure a win and victory for SEAT in their first British Touring Car Championship meeting. Muller’s second place was enough to give him the lead in the championship, one point ahead of Plato, with Thompson one point further back in third.
1. Jason Plato 28 minutes 28.389 seconds
2. Yvan Muller +0.451s
3. Michael Bentwood 2.082s
4. Dan Eaves +2.412s
5. Robert Collard 2.995s
6. Anthony Reid +5.542s
7. Luke Hines +6.082s
8. Shaun Watson-Smith +9.126s
9. James Kaye +12.964s
10. Colin Turkington +13.913s
1. Muller 22 points
2. Plato 19
3. Thompson 18
4. Eaves 15
5. Bentwood 14
6. Reid 13
7. Neal 12
8. Collard 6
8. Huff 5
=. Watson-Smith 5
10. Hines 4
11. Kaye 2
=. Chilton 2
12. Turkington 1