MG grabs the Manufacturer lead
For the first time since the Donington Park event in 2013, MG/Triple Eight have taken the lead in the Manufacturer/Constructor standings ahead of Honda Team Dynamics. It has been an incredibly close battle between the four manufacturer-backed cars so far this year, and now MG have moved ahead by just a single point.
With Honda having taken the past four consecutive Manufacturer’s titles, MG drivers Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff are on a mission in this, the third year of the MG6 racer, to snatch the crown from the new-for-2014 Honda Civic Tourers. The hatchback Civic model is a proven package, but with the switch to the larger Tourer this year there have been some new challenges for Team Dynamics to overcome. It didn’t take long, however, for the car to take its first podium in the hands of Matt Neal in the very first race of the year at Brands Hatch. Podiums soon became wins, as Shedden triumphed in the final race of the day at Donington Park, but the Pershore–based squad hasn’t had things entirely its own way.
Two podiums for Plato at Brands were followed up by a dominant display by Triple Eight three weeks later at Donington. A front-row lockout for Plato and Tordoff followed by 1-2s in both races was mightily impressive, but a strong race three for Honda just kept the Japanese marque in front.
With both Thruxton and Oulton Park balanced between the two works teams, Honda held a slender advantage coming into the BTCC’s sole trip to north Yorkshire. The MG pair had been fast at Croft in 2013 and were confident ahead of the weekend, and while they didn’t quite get the results anticipated, it was still enough to move them ahead in the race for manufacturer honours.
Local driver Sam Tordoff struggled for grip in his #88 car, but took three solid points finishes while Plato scrapped slightly further up the order and held on to a hard-fought podium in race one. Despite Honda’s Shedden scoring two podiums, tough times for his team-mate Neal saw the #4 car disqualified from a podium spot himself for a ride-height infringement in the second race, before a clash with Rob Austin and Warren Scott as Neal was coming through the field made it another non-score. After the racing, Neal commented, “It was obviously hugely disappointing to lose team and manufacturer points, but on the positive side, it was a great weekend for ‘Flash’ and as a team, we’re still very much in the hunt in all three championships.”
Plato had his own dramas in the final contest having been demoted down the grid for an incident with Alain Menu in race two, but he still managed a top ten finish to help edge MG ahead. Together with Tordoff’s consistent results, the pair go into the summer break ahead, and Tordoff was keen to highlight the boost in morale this brings: “We’re ahead in the manufacturers points, which is great and shows that consistency really is key – it means a lot to the drivers, the team and of course MG.”
Croft proved that, as with any of the championship elements in the BTCC, a single DNF can have an impact on the standings, and come the Brands Hatch finale in October the battle for the Manufacturer/Constructor trophy is sure to be as close as ever.