Double BTCC champion Jason Plato says teammate Ash Sutton’s 2017 title success vindicates Team BMR’s factory-backed Subaru programme.
Sutton beat WSR’s Colin Turkington to the crown at Brands Hatch on Sunday after Turkington retired from the final race.
That success was achieved in the second season of BMR’s project with the factory-backed Subaru Levorgs.
Alongside Team BMR technical director Carl Faux, Plato played an instrumental role in bringing the marque to the BTCC for the 2016 season.
“He has driven wonderfully this year,” Plato told Motorsport.com of Sutton’s success. “I’m a selfish sportsman, but if I can’t do it then by God I want him to [win the title].
“He’s put a great season together.
“He deserves it, he’s a great driver. It’s a shame that my season hasn’t gone the way I wanted, because it would have been nice to have been up there having a bit of a scrap.
“This result validated the programme, despite all the constant interference and the things that have gone on in the background; it’s brilliant for it all to come good and for that, I’m really pleased.”
The WSR BMW squad was able to wrap up the manufacturers championship, but BMR’s Subaru effort beat the Team Dynamics-run Honda concern to runner-up spot.
“Subaru beating Honda in the manufacturers means an awful lot,” said Faux. “That’s because of the Japanese link.
“That's why they are here; when we sat around the table with them and proposed this plan, [and] they were on board because Honda were in it.”
Sutton needed pep talk before finale
Sutton failed to score a point at the opening round of the season on the Brands Hatch Indy loop, but recorded six victories from five rounds in the middle part of the year to vault himself into title contention.
He led the championship by 24 points ahead of Sunday’s second race and could have wrapped the championship up before the finale, but slipped from third on the grid to 12th while Turkington advanced from 15th to win and slash his arrears to six points.
Faux said the team needed to sit Sutton down before the final race to make sure the 23-year-old was in the right frame of mind.
"Working out how to extract the performance from Ash was the difficult thing to do,” he said.
“When Colin got away from him so quickly [in race two] his head went down a little bit. He got beaten up by a few of the other cars on track and he made a few mistakes, and that’s because he was thinking of the bigger picture.
“Before race three I told him what I thought of him - that he was better than Colin; he’s proved it in a wheel-to-wheel battle so far this year - and he hasn’t got to prove anything, he’s just got to go out there and drive like he [normally] does.”