Rockingham BTCC: Plato denies Ingram in race 3
Jason Plato pipped Speedworks Motorsport's Tom Ingram to victory in a thrilling final race at Rockingham, after a monumental battle between the pair in which the lead swapped hands several times.
In a race twice interrupted by two safety car periods, Plato finally made his move stick at Deene on lap 14, but it was only part of the story.
Ingram was nonetheless delighted as he secured both his and Speedworks' first podium in the BTCC.
Behind the duelling pair, Plato's team-mate Colin Turkington kept himself firmly in the title hunt ahead of Honda's Matt Neal, who turned in an excellent performance on the soft tyre in fourth.
West Surrey Racing's Sam Tordoff charged through to fifth ahead of Aron Smith, with Rob Austin, championship leader Gordon Shedden, Andrew Jordan and Josh Cook completing the top 10.
The action was frantic from the very start. Ingram held his lead while Triple Eight Racing's Jack Goff was passed by both Plato and Turkington before being tipped into a spin at Deene, and dropping to last.
Power Maxed Racing's Dave Newsham slowed along the pit straight going into lap two, which also saw Support Our Paras Racing's Derek Palmer Jr turned around by Welch Motorsport's Dan Welch at Tarzan.
The battling at the front started in earnest on lap four. Plato passed Ingram at Deene before Ingram forced his Toyota Avensis back inside the Volkswagen CC to hold the lead and establish a small gap.
The first of two safety cars was deployed on lap seven when AmD Tuning's Mike Bushell was put into the gravel by Rob Austin Racing's Hunter Abbott at Deene. A huge defence from Ingram when racing resumed on lap 10 maintained his lead, before Aiden Moffat and Adam Morgan made contact at the final chicane on lap 11.
Plato must have thought he'd finally made it stick at Deene on lap 12, but the relentless Ingram fought his way back inside through Pif Paf and retook the lead at the end of Steel Straight to huge cheers from the crowd.
Plato finally made the decisive move at Deene on lap 14 before Welch's Proton expired and a second safety car was scrambled to clear up fluid from the circuit. And the action still wasn't over, as Abbott had a massive lock up heading into Deene on the final tour and careered into the rear of Moffat, putting both out of the race.
In a race high on incident and attrition, just 18 cars took the chequered flag, with Team Parker Racing's Alex Martin scoring points for the first time in 13th.
Plato kept it clean to take the win after 19 frenetic laps and cut Shedden's championship lead to just six points with six races remaining.
|-||Derek Palmer Jr.||Infiniti|
Rockingham BTCC: Shedden beats Jackson in race 2
Shedden turns championship race on its head at Rockingham
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|Location||Rockingham Motor Speedway|