Plato on verge of title after win
|By Jamie O'Leary||Sunday, October 10th 2010, 11:11 GMT|
Jason Plato took a giant step towards winning the British Touring Car Championship by taking victory in the first race at Brands Hatch.
The Chevrolet driver collected a maximum score as he won from pole position and set the fastest lap.
His 2.154-second victory came ahead of Honda driver Gordon Shedden, who moved ahead of Matt Neal at the start and retained his position throughout.
Neal's third place means he is now 25 points behind Plato with 34 still up for grabs in the day's two remaining races.
Shedden is 27 points back while Tom Onslow-Cole, who also began the day with a mathematical chance of the title, is now out of the running as he retired from the race with a suspected mechanical problem.
Mat Jackson had run third early on after making a cracking start, but the Motorbase BMW driver spun at Surtees on lap eight and could only recover to 13th by the end.
That allowed Neal and Alex MacDowall by and the Chevrolet driver did well to resist pressure from the magnificent Rob Collard during the closing stages to secure fourth.
Collard, who started 13th in his WSR BMW, made more successful overtaking moves than the rest of the field put together and demoted James Nash, Paul O'Neill and Tom Chilton during the middle stages of the race.
Collard's result made him the winner of the independents' class ahead of O'Neill (Tech-Speed Honda) and Chilton. However, with Onslow-Cole failing to finish, Chilton cut the gap in the independents championship to 12 points. Steven Kane, 11th, is a further two behind.
The points scored by Chilton were sufficient to secure the independent teams' title for Arena while Honda was also celebrating after guaranteeing itself the overall teams' crown.
Nash (Triple 8 Vauxhall), Andrew Jordan (Eurotech Vauxhall) and Tom Boardman (Special Tuning UK SEAT) completed the top 10 overall ahead of Kane.
Series debutant Sam Tordoff was on Kane's tail for most of the race, but slipped back to 17th after receiving a drive-through penalty for putting all four of his Triple 8 Vauxhall's wheels off the track too many times at Paddock.
Fellow rookie Ben Collins finished 14th in his Motorbase BMW after starting from the back row.
Pos Driver Car Time 1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 19:56.707 2. Gordon Shedden Honda + 2.154 3. Matt Neal Honda + 2.750 4. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 4.626 5. Rob Collard BMW + 4.886 6. Paul O'Neill Honda + 11.276 7. Tom Chilton Ford + 11.871 8. James Nash Vauxhall + 13.002 9. Andrew Jordan Vauxhall + 14.268 10. Tom Boardman SEAT + 16.139 11. Steven Kane BMW + 16.248 12. Andy Neate BMW + 16.789 13. Mat Jackson BMW + 19.903 14. Ben Collins BMW + 24.614 15. Lea Wood Honda + 27.637 16. James Kaye Honda + 28.734 17. Sam Tordoff Vauxhall + 36.053 18. Martin Johnson Vauxhall + 42.227 19. John George Honda + 42.476 20. Arthur Forster BMW + 44.372 21. Shaun Hollamby Volkswagen + 1 lap Retirements: Driver Car Laps Tom Onslow-Cole Ford 8 Martin Depper BMW 6 Fastest lap: Jason Plato, 49.021