Plato Wins, Hondas Struggle
Submitted on October 7th 2012 13:11 by Chris Ashby.
Jason Plato has won the first race of the day at Silverstone in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship to close on the championship lead as Matt Neal retires with mechanical issues and Gordon Shedden could only manage a seventh place finish, meaning nineteen points now cover the top three with five races to go.
The MG KX Momentum driver launched his MG6 off the line to head into Copse first but it didn’t last long as the pace of the NGTC Redstone Focus of Mat Jackson drove him past Plato to control the race where he broke the lap record twice. However three laps from home throttle failure struck Jackson forcing him to retire to the side of the track thus allowing Plato to pick up the pieces to claim his fifth win of the season and start his day the way everyone predicted.
Plato’s title challengers however all had races that they didn’t need as the Honda Yuasa Racing pair of Neal and Shedden battled a lack of straight line speed to try and limit the damage Plato could do to them. Shedden, who had a new engine fitted overnight, worked his way through the pack from nineteenth to finish seventh although the Scotsman had a massive moment when contact was made between Shedden and Team HARD driver Howard Fuller at Copse.
Shedden’s team mate Matt Neal had made a good start but at the halfway point turbo boost problems struck the NGTC Civic forcing the defending champion to retire to the pits and start the day picking up no points and placing him at the back of the grid for the second race of the day later on.
A chaotic start to the race brought out the safety car after Team ES Racing driver Chris James dived down the inside of Fuller at Copse only to make contact and cause substantial damage to the S2000 Vectra of James. One corner further down the track at Maggots however on the same lap, Independents championship leader Andrew Jordan found himself beached in the gravel after being hit by Plato’s team mate Andy Neate leaving Jordan looking very animated and infuriated at points that would have been vital in maintaining his championship lead.
When the safety car came in there was contact between Frank Wrathall and Adam Morgan at Brooklands but it was the battle for third that kept everyone on their toes with James team mate Dave Newsham fending off Robert Collard and Aron Smith for the final spot on the podium however a lack of pace dropped Collard off the pack until the end when his tyres start to give him their optimum performance. Once Jackson had retired it was Newsham who took second place after a holding off a magnificent drive and maiden podium for Irishman Aron Smith who has shown very impressive pace in the recent rounds of the championship.
Collard brought his eBay BMW over the line in fourth to close on Jordan in the Independents whilst Rob Austin finished fifth. Nick Foster was sixth and Shedden seventh. Rounding out the top ten was Jeff Smith, Lea Wood and Tom Onslow-Cole.
The championship standings now leave Gordon Shedden on 345, Matt Neal still on 333 points and Jason Plato 19 points behind on 326 points. Race two takes place at 14:14 and can be seen on ITV4 or www.itv.com/btcc
PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathon Hobley