Plato Dominates Round 22 At Rockingham
Submitted on September 23rd 2012 13:25 by Chris Ashby.
Jason Plato has taken victory in Round 22 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the fast paced Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire to close onto the lead of the championship.
The MG KX Momentum driver launched his MG6 off the line to lead into the infamous turn one where he didn’t look back. Starting in fourth, Mat Jackson hung his NGTC Redstone Focus around the outside of Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden to take second place however the latter two slipped back past at turn three. From there the front four stayed as they were to the finish however it was a less than comfortable race for championship leader Matt Neal.
Neal came into the event on the back of a nasty motorcycle crash where he sustained fractures to his hand and wrist thus meaning his weekend was always going to be tough in his Honda Yuasa Civic. It was Plato’s team mate Andy Neate, who on the back of his best qualifying of the season in sixth, gave Neal problems in the opening laps and forced a mistake at turn three allowing the MG driver to slip past. The championship leader’s race was even tougher when Rob Collard out braked him into the hairpin then the rapid Audi of Rob Austin put the magnets onto the back of the NGTC Civic.
Collard managed to break away as the tyres on the BMW gained temperature and soon passed Neate for fifth. Further down the pack the Redstone Focus of Aron Smith and Pirtek Civic of Jeff Smith came together at Tarzan when Jeff out braked himself and caught the rear quarter of the Irishman sending him into the gravel. However a few laps later Jeff Smith put a wheel wide at Gracelands and slammed into the barrier causing substantial damage to the passenger’s side. Lap 9 gave Matt Neal the breathing space he needed when Rob Austin made a move down the inside at Piff Paff but lost the back of the Audi sending him into a spin; however he recovered to eight in the end.
Neal battled through the pain barrier to catch and pass Neate then gave Collard cause for concern in the closing laps however the eBay Motors BMW had the legs on the straight to maintain the position. Ultimately it as Jason Plato who put the troubles of Knockhill behind him to take a clean sweep of points from pole, fastest lap, leading lap and win to dominate race one with championship protagonists Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden rounding out the podium. Mat Jackson crossed the line to finish fourth with Collard and Neal fifth and sixth. Neate was seventh and the battling Tom Onslow-Cole, Rob Austin and Nick Foster rounded out the top ten.
Plato’s win has closed the championship up with Matt Neal (297pts) maintaining his lead but his advantage is now down to 5 points over his Honda Yuasa team mate Gordon Shedden (292pts) with Jason Plato (274pts) closing to just 23 points off the top of the standings now.
The second race of the day is scheduled for 13:50 and can be seen on ITV4 or www.itv.com/btcc
PHOTO CREDIT: Johnathon Hobley