Plato: “We’ve got all the ingredients and we’ve got the pace”
Jason Plato experienced somewhat of a familiar feeling in the BTCC opener at Brands Hatch and it’s not necessarily one he will want to repeat too often during the 2014 season.
As they were throughout 2013, both Jason and his MG6 were extremely quick, but the two-time champion arguably left the circuit with fewer points that his performances deserved.
“Five DNF’s is too many if you want to win the title,” reflected Plato after narrowly missing out on glory last year – a season in which MG took half of the pole positions on offer. There were a number of occasions where the team’s superior pace failed to translate into points on the board and that trend looked set to continue when Plato’s car stopped on the grid before race two at Brands Hatch last month.
“We’ve got all the ingredients and we’ve got the pace – there’s no doubt about that, but we need to understand why we keep getting gremlins into the system,” said Plato. “We lost at least 17 points because of it – we’ve got to stop that and then we’ll win it – it certainly wont be through lack of pace.”
Plato had narrowly missed out on the first pole of the season by just 0.012s and then hounded Andrew Jordan’s Honda Civic in race one to visit the podium at the first time of asking in 2014. He then ran into the aforementioned problems ahead of the second contest, but Plato was able to eventually fire up his Triple Eight-run machine up and subsequently produced two more master classes.
He made up 20 places to finish 11th in that race, before improving to take third in the final encounter – just over a second behind race winner Colin Turkington. Such is the competitiveness of the 2014 field, however, that title contenders will not want to be fighting their way through the order on a regular basis.
The MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save team deserves huge credit for its efforts in Kent, as not only did they respond to the setback emphatically, but they’ve provided Plato and his team-mate Sam Tordoff with a machine that is now supremely fast in all conditions and on all compounds of Dunlop rubber.
The pace in the dry had been there from the outset of the project in 2012, although the MG6 needed refining in wet conditions. That improvement came last season when impressive speed was shown at Croft and elsewhere. A further hurdle that needed jumping was how the car looked after the Dunlop Sport Maxx soft tyre over a race distance – a challenge that was passed last time out at Brands Hatch.
“It could have been a disastrous day but we turned it around and scored some great points,” continued Jason. “Everyone is really motivated. The big story for us is that was the first podium we’ve scored on the soft tyre and we were the quickest out there by a fair chunk.
“The team will be confident moving forward to Donington and also of the developments we’ve got on the car – our new aero package and dampers – they will come into effect more at circuits like Donington and Thruxton, so the car should get even better.”
So there’s the warning – one of the fastest drivers in one of the fastest cars could be about to get even better – quite a prospect for the next few rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship…