Feature race: Full marks for Plato

Jason Plato completed a Silverstone double in the British Touring Car Championship night races thanks to his own skill, a dodgy air jack and a gaffe by his works Vauxhall team

Feature race: Full marks for Plato

Plato was battling for the lead of a wet race with team mate Yvan Muller when the Frenchman lost stacks of time when his Astra Coupe could not be lifted from the ground for its compulsory tyre change, then was called in for a drive-through penalty because the Triple Eight crew had emerged onto the pit apron no less than 16 seconds too early.

Muller lost his pole position advantage when Plato completed a brave move to take the lead into Becketts on the first lap, but Muller was equally decisive in his counter-attack to spear inside Plato into Copse at the start of the second tour.

Muller then pulled away, while Plato outfumbled himself by accidentally selecting neutral and momentarily going off track at the Abbey hairpin, without losing second.

But as Muller's front tyres went off after a few laps, so his dreaded understeer returned, allowing Plato to close in. Then came the Alsatian's pit stop calamity, his Vauxhall stationary for 36 seconds.

He rejoined third, behind the Egg Sport Vauxhall of Phil Bennett, but then came the drive-through penalty, which he took without losing a place, even if it cost him any chance of catching Bennett.

"I'm fairly upset and it's frustrating," said Muller. "I spent long enough in the pits the first time and coming in twice was unnecessary. I don't care whose fault it is though. It's the team's fault and we're all part of the team and we all make mistakes. But still, we have to improve in times of stress."

Those dramas gave Plato an advantage of a few seconds over Bennett, which he stretched to the finish. "It's a shame about Yvan's dramas because it would have been a cracking race, but I'll take my good luck when it comes," he concluded.

Bennett did a good job to take his best ever BTCC result, but it enjoyed an element of fortune, as Muller and his Egg Sport team mate James Thompson were both hit by delays. Thompson's came at the very first corner of the race, when he was punted off by the Peugeot of Steve Soper, who himself claimed to have been hit.

Thompson recovered to fourth, while Kurt Luby was able to hang onto fifth in the Lexus from the recovering Soper. Dan Eaves retired the other Peugeot with mechanical problems, while Tim Harvey's Alfa failed to last a lap again, leaving the sister Alfa of Dave Pinkney as the other finisher.

If the overall race was dull beyond belief from the middle onwards, the Production class battle was a thriller throughout. Some great battling between Peugeot twins Simon Harrison and Roger Moen and James Kaye's Honda ended with victory for the Norwegian. He took the lead a couple of laps from home as Harrison's gearbox gradually fell to pieces, losing fifth gear
completely.

"My race with James was one of the best races I've ever had," said Moen, who was suffering with a misted up windscreen and could hardly see on left-handers. "It was fantastic. And as long as both cars stay on the circuit it's all fine."

Jason Plato (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 30 laps in 51m33.094s
Phil Bennett (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +11.786s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +30.345s
James Thompson (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +52.183s
Kurt Luby (ABG Motorsport Lexus IS200) +1m24.345s
Steve Soper (Peugeot 406 Coupe) +1m29.076s
Dave Pinkney (JSM Alfa Romeo 147) +1m37.321s
Roger Moen P (HTML Peugeot 306) +1m37.517s
James Kaye P (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) +1m38.465s
Simon Harrison P (HTML Peugeot 306) +1m45.076s
Fastest lap Muller 1m40.498s
P= Production

Moen
Kaye
Harrison
Gareth Howell (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) -1 lap
Paul O'Neill (Techspeed Peugeot 306) -1 lap
Jim Edwards Jr (TCR Honda Accord) -1 lap
Fastest lap Gavin Pyper (GA Janspeed Alfa Romeo 156) 1m44.940s

Muller 108
Plato 99
Thompson 89
Bennett 66
Soper 30
Luby 29
Eaves 27
Harvey 16
Pinkney 14
Neal 11

Harrison 93
Kaye 75
Moen 64
Jackson & Howell 44
Pyper 37

shares
comments
Sprint race: Plato nicks ahead of Muller
Previous article

Sprint race: Plato nicks ahead of Muller

Next article

Free practice: Vauxhalls to the fore

Free practice: Vauxhalls to the fore
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022
How the BTCC's new hybrid era aced its first test Plus

How the BTCC's new hybrid era aced its first test

Expectations were high for the start of the British Touring Car Championship’s hybrid power era, and despite nerves and problems to solve prior to its debut the new rules gained widespread approval. Here’s how the first test at Donington Park was passed and the thorough examinations that are to follow

BTCC
Apr 28, 2022
The Ford BTCC superteam combining two reigning TOCA champions Plus

The Ford BTCC superteam combining two reigning TOCA champions

Reigning BTCC champion Ash Sutton and Porsche Carrera Cup GB victor Dan Cammish form a potent line-up at the Motorbase-run NAPA Racing team as the series adopts hybrid power. With Sutton bringing the key components of his title-winning Laser Tools Racing set-up, and Cammish eager to prove a point on his return, their dynamic is set to be one of the season's major talking points

BTCC
Apr 21, 2022
The stalwart tin-top boss still shaping careers more than 40 years on Plus

The stalwart tin-top boss still shaping careers more than 40 years on

Veteran team manager Marvin Humphries and former Tech-Speed team boss has worked not only with stars of the British Touring Car Championship, but legends including Gil de Ferran, Hans Stuck and Tom Sneva in a long and varied career that has spanned five decades across tin-tops, single-seaters and sportscars

BTCC
Feb 4, 2022
The grassroots rise that shaped an understated BTCC star Plus

The grassroots rise that shaped an understated BTCC star

Having started out in club-level competitions alongside his own university engineering studies, Josh Cook's journey to becoming an established frontrunner in the British Touring Car Championship is atypical. But it's these experiences that have moulded the 30-year-old into a humble star, respected throughout the paddock

BTCC
Jan 12, 2022
Ranking the top 10 BTCC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 BTCC drivers of 2021

A refresh in equipment and some returning faces helped contribute to a supremely competitive 2021 British Touring Car Championship campaign. Ash Sutton was crowned a three-time champion, successfully defending his 2020 title, but faced stiff competition in the final year before the switch to hybrid. Autosport picks out the best performers

BTCC
Nov 17, 2021
Why the BTCC's ballast increase couldn't stop champion Sutton Plus

Why the BTCC's ballast increase couldn't stop champion Sutton

Ballast will be gone from the BTCC next year as hybrid power enters the scene, but for its final season the maximum was increased from 60kg to 75kg. Despite having to carry that nearly all season, Ash Sutton was always the favourite to pocket a third title - the 27-year-old getting his reward for a season of speed tempered by savvy to nail his opportunities

BTCC
Nov 12, 2021
The much-loved tin-top superstar bowing out at 59 Plus

The much-loved tin-top superstar bowing out at 59

OPINION: It's not often that a driver achieves widespread affection for their personality, as well as their on-track performances. One such individual is Gabriele Tarquini, who will soon bring the curtain down on a remarkable career that has yielded touring car titles on the European and global stage - and, famously, in Britain too

BTCC
Nov 11, 2021