Plato secures 50th BTCC race victory
|By Jamie O'Leary||Sunday, September 20th 2009, 13:58 GMT|
Jason Plato took his 50th British Touring Car Championship victory in the second race of the day at Rockingham, bringing himself back into title contention in the process.
Plato ran third during the early stages behind Stephen Jelley's WSR BMW and his RML Chevrolet team-mate Mat Jackson.
When Jackson put a forceful move on Jelley for the lead and pushed him wide at Deene hairpin on lap seven, Plato followed him through. He then overtook Jackson by diving down the inside at the same corner nine laps later.
Plato's win, his fourth of the season, leaves him just 20 points behind series leader Colin Turkington with four races left this season, and means that the title cannot now be decided this weekend.
Turkington (WSR BMW) made a rocket start from 10th to make it up to sixth on the opening lap - right behind his main championship rival Fabrizio Giovanardi. He eventually finished fourth, one place behind the Vauxhall, meaning that his lead over the Italian is now just five points.
Jonathan Adam was fifth in the only Motorbase BMW that started the race - his team-mate Rob Collard pulling into the pits at the end of the formation lap with a technical problem.
Jelley fell back to sixth, ahead of James Nash's RML Chevrolet, Andrew Jordan's Vauxhall and Tom Chilton's Arena Ford, which will start the next race from pole position on the reversed grid.
Earlier the field was bunched up by two safety car periods, the first caused by John George's crash at the Pif-Paf, and the second after his TH Honda team-mate Matt Hamilton's car became beached in the gravel at Tarzan.
Matt Neal did not make the start of the race due to the extensive damage caused to his Vauxhall earlier on, but did join in during the second half of the race. He did not complete enough laps to be classified as a finisher.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 29m05.784s 2. Mat Jackson Chevrolet + 0.886s 3. Fabrizio Giovanardi Vauxhall + 1.420s 4. Colin Turkington BMW + 1.802s 5. Jonathan Adam BMW + 3.662s 6. Stephen Jelley BMW + 4.226s 7. James Nash Chevrolet + 6.007s 8. Andrew Jordan Vauxhall + 8.313s 9. Tom Chilton Ford + 11.916s 10. Johnny Herbert Honda + 13.478s 11. Harry Vaulkhard Chevrolet + 13.853s 12. Anthony Reid BMW + 15.625s 13. David Pinkney Honda + 15.934s 14. Martin Johnson Vauxhall + 23.531s Retirements: Paul O'Neill Honda 16 laps Gordon Shedden SEAT 15 laps Matthew Hamilton Honda 9 laps Matt Neal Vauxhall 6 laps John George Honda 2 laps Rob Collard BMW 0 laps Tom Onslow-Cole Ford 0 laps