Jason Plato takes Brands Hatch victory in brand new MG
|By Kevin Turner||Sunday, April 1st 2012, 17:23 GMT|
Jason Plato took victory on the first weekend of MG's return to the British Touring Car Championship in Brands Hatch's reversed-grid race.
Plato was fifth when the first attempt at the race was red-flagged. Mat Jackson's Motorbase Ford Focus, which had been running second, ran wide at Paddock and then dropped fluid on the approach to Druids.
The chasing Rob Austin (Audi) had a moment on the fluid, before seven cars subsequently went off and the red flags flew.
Rob Collard's WSR BMW, which had led the first effort, also took the lead of the restarted race, chased by Austin and Andrew Jordan's Eurotech Honda Civic.
Despite a moment at Graham Hill Bend, Plato fought off Dave Newsham's ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra for fourth and chased after the lead trio.
As the race wore on Collard and Austin faded. Jordan forced his way by both at Clearways on consecutive laps, but Plato's Triple Eight MG6 soon followed.
He quickly closed on Jordan and put the Honda driver under intense pressure. Jordan held on until, with five laps to go, he left a small gap at Clearways.
Plato forced his way past and pulled clear to score the first win for the MG6, which had not had a proper test until the week before Brands.
Behind Jordan, Newsham completed the podium, despite a late charge from Gordon Shedden's works Honda. After a torrid day beset by electrical problems, Shedden finally got a clean run and showed impressive pace as he charged through the pack to fourth.
Jeff Smith (Eurotech) made it three Hondas in the top five, after barging past Collard in a move that also allowed Austin to claim sixth.
Reigning champion Matt Neal recovered from a first corner moment to take eighth.
Results - 20 laps (after restart): Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jason Plato Triple 8 MG 16m41.826s 2. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda + 1.866s 3. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall + 8.283s 4. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda + 10.525s 5. Rob Austin Austin Audi + 11.755s 6. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 13.117s 7. Matt Neal Dynamics Honda + 14.498s 8. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford + 22.056s 9. Lea Wood Wood Vauxhall + 25.211s 10. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda + 28.311s 11. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford + 29.360s 12. Chris James ES Vauxhall + 32.304s 13. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota + 38.902s 14. Andy Neate Triple 8 MG + 39.136s 15. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota + 1 lap 16. John Thorne Thorney Vauxhall + 2 laps Retirements: Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 0 laps Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 0 laps Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 0 laps Daniel Welch Welch Proton 0 laps Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 0 laps Gordon Shedden Dynamics Honda 0 laps