PLATO'S TAIL "IN THE AIR" AHEAD OF HOME BTCC ROUND AT CROFT Jason Plato says his tail is "in the air" as he prepares for one of his home HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday 14 ...
PLATO'S TAIL "IN THE AIR" AHEAD OF HOME BTCC ROUND AT CROFT
Jason Plato says his tail is "in the air" as he prepares for one of his home HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday 14 June.
Plato, who hails from Newcastle, has a soft spot for the Darlington track and winning there in his Racing Silverline Chevrolet Lacetti would clearly mean a lot as he seeks to keep up the pressure on old foe Matt Neal who currently leads the standings in his Vauxhall Vectra.
The 41-year-old said: "The atmosphere at Croft is always really good. The locals really embrace the BTCC and it's because there's not a lot of top line motor sport in their neck of the woods. There's one big race meeting and this is it and they come out in their tens of thousands.
"The public viewing areas are also very good - the BTCC is all about action and Croft promotes close racing. At Croft they really get their money's worth.
"There's also a great buzz for the drivers as well. Sitting on the grid about five minutes or so before the race starts and looking ahead towards the first corner and seeing the bank packed with people is always a pretty special feeling. The best view of that of course is if you're on the front row of the grid and that's precisely where I aim to be at Croft."
Plato is regarded as one of the world's best touring car drivers and has also become one of the most successful names ever in the BTCC. He won the 2001 Drivers' crown, his wins tally of 47 is surpassed only by the 60 achieved by the legendary Andy Rouse and his ratio of points scored per race is one of the highest around.
He underlined his class in the most recent round at Oulton Park, Cheshire where he qualified on pole position almost half a second faster than what many believe is the BTCC's most competitive grid in over a decade.
But Plato, these days based in Oxford, added: "I think we've now turned the Chevrolet into the fastest front-wheel-drive car on the track, certainly in qualifying trim, but there are those pesky rear-wheel-drive BMWs to worry about. Even if I can get pole position again, the only way I can hold onto the lead into the first corner is if I make the start of my life and then they really mess it up - if they make even just an average getaway they'll still tear past me.
"That's precisely what happened at Oulton with Colin (Turkington who started from third) and that shaped our results in the two other races later in the day. But my tail is up. I targeted 30 points at Oulton and got 29 so it wasn't so bad. And I believe the performance gap between the two cars will be less at Croft. I've had some of my most memorable wins there and hopefully, with the terrific support the crowd always give, there can be some more this time around."