500 not out as Plato wins at Knockhill
Jason Plato celebrated his 500th BTCC race in style by taking a commanding lights-to-flag victory at Knockhill, becoming the 11th different winner in this incredible season so far.
The Silverline Subaru BMR Racing driver made a quick getaway off the line, building a strong gap over the first half of the race. He was being reeled in by the BMW of Jack Goff in the latter stages, and also had to contend with a safety car period, but the BTCC legend held on to claim his 95th race win.
The race began in steady fashion with the top six drivers – all running the Dunlop SportMaxx soft tyre – holding station on the opening lap. Matt Neal’s Honda nudged Adam Morgan’s Mercedes into a spin further down the order, shortly before Andrew Jordan traded positions with Colin Turkington for fifth at the start of the second tour.
Turkington’s race was compromised by the move as it was clear his Subaru Levorg was quicker Jordan’s Ford for much of the contest. The duo ran side-by-side during lap eight but Turkington had to wait until lap 14 before he could finally snatch back fifth place.
Goff had passed team-mate Sam Tordoff and Tom Ingram’s Toyota by that point, and now up to second, began carving into Plato’s lead.
The safety car was deployed on lap 20 after Dan Welch tipped Warren Scott’s Subaru into the gravel, which ironically threatened to derail team-mate Plato’s chances of victory. Scott’s Levorg was retrieved by the marshals and the race was soon underway, with Plato managing the remaining laps with consummate ease as a late challenge from Goff failed to materialise.
“Before this weekend I wasn’t getting caught up in any of the numbers,” said Plato. “You cast your mind back to where it all started – struggling in single-seaters with no money, and doorstepping Sir Frank Williams. 500 races later and we’re still winning. Whilst we all wanted to get that first win at Subaru, did it matter too much to me? It was just great to see the cars winning come what may out of the car. In the car, I was obviously disappointed! The ball was just yet to roll my way.”
“Everybody’s been fantastic with me this year,” revealed WSR’s Goff, after scoring his best result of 2016. “They’ve given me a great car and it was about time I repaid them with a bit of silverware for this side of the garage. The tyres drifted towards the end there but before the safety car I was really closing in on (Jason) so it came at a bad time for us. I spoke to my engineer about having a go but I’d got past before I’d finished asking!”
The excitement in the closing laps came from Turkington as he carved his way past Tordoff with a sensational move at the restart. He then grabbed the final podium position with an expert late move by Ingram at the hairpin on the penultimate lap.
“I really enjoyed that,” enthused Turkington. “The car was obviously strong. I lost a positon to Andy (Jordan) on the inside of the hairpin early on. I got bunched up the inside and he outdragged me down the straight. It was just about being patient though. I knew the race would come to me and my pace was electric once I got past AJ. I’m really pleased for the team – another double podium, so it’s great.”
Jordan eventually claimed a lonely sixth, ahead of the impressive Dave Newsham. The series returnee starred throughout for Power Maxed Racing, rewarding the squad with its best result of the season.
Halfords Yuasa Racing duo Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden claimed eight and ninth respectively, whilst Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin rounded out the top ten.
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 19 – Knockhill:
1 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 25:30.213 (80.47 mph)
2 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +0.503s
3 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.003s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +2.375s
5 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +2.781s
6 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +4.034s
7 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +5.265s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +7.605s
9 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +8.143s
10 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +8.357s
11 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +9.206s
12 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +10.160s
13 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +11.295s
14 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +11.346s
15 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +11.495s
16 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +12.307s
17 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +12.581s
18 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +13.652s
19 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +14.484s
20 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +14.863s
21 Dan WELCH (GBR) Goodestone Racing +15.114s
22 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +15.991s
23 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com+16.868s
24 Michael CAINE (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +18.868s
25 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +19.479s
26 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +21.057s
27 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +1 laps
DNF Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +8 laps
DNF Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +10 laps
DNF Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +14 laps
DNF Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +18 laps