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Plato on verge of title after win

Jason PlatoJason 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


    Driver                Car       Laps
    Tom Onslow-Cole       Ford       8
    Martin Depper         BMW        6

Fastest lap: Jason Plato, 49.021

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