Matt James’ Perfect 10 of the ’10s: Plato hits 62
As we head into a new decade, over the next couple of weeks, Motorsport News Editor Matt James will be scouring the last ten years of the British Touring Car Championship for his top ten memories – starting with BTCC legend Jason Plato’s record-breaking 62nd race win.
When: April 3, 2011
Where: Brands Hatch
Much like Michael Schumacher’s all-time records in Formula 1, Andy Rouse’s catalogue of success in the British Touring Car Championship set benchmarks that seemed to be an impossible target for those following behind.
Rouse’s record of four titles was finally matched some 34 years after his final championship triumph when Colin Turkington grabbed his crown in 2019. But earlier in the 2010s there was an equally impressive landmark that was reached by Jason Plato: he topped Rouse’s number of individual race victories, which stood at 60.
At the opening meeting of 2011, Plato recorded back-to-back triumphs at Brands Hatch in his RML-run Chevrolet Cruze to bring his career record to 62 and put himself clear at the head of the standings.
In the final race of 2019, Plato was still on the top step of the rostrum and he has now pushed that win total up to 97. The magic 100 is not far off and given Plato’s return to competitiveness last year in the Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra, he has it very firmly in his gaze.
Plato has only claimed two championships since he joined the category in 1997, and even he admits that it is his win-at-all-costs attitude that has perhaps cost him a shot at some of the overall titles.
“I love winning, and I will do anything to get that feeling,” he told me just after he had reached 60 wins. “In some cases I could have driven for points and, who knows, earned another couple of titles. But that is not what I am about and it is not, in my mind, what the fans want to see. They want to see someone putting everything on the line, and that is what I do.”
Plato’s impact on the BTCC over the course of the last decade simply can’t be underplayed. He has been the heart of the championship battle for most of those seasons and has driven five different makes of machine to victories in that time – Chevrolet, MG, VW, Subaru and Vauxhall. That, in itself, is an enviable record.
But it is the strike rate of wins which puts him well clear of the rest. Matt Neal has also eclipsed Rouse now too, but Plato is more than 30 clear of Neal and more than 40 ahead of Turkington. Is it an achievement that is ever likely to be bettered? It seems highly unlikely but then, so did Rouse’s record…