Jason Plato Q&A

Vauxhall's British Touring Car Championship star has switched codes and gone Down Under for a tilt at the world-famous Australian V8 Supercar FIA 1000 at Bathurst. He will share a works HRT Holden Commodore with BTCC team-mate Yvan Muller, a Bathurst virgin. Starting on Tuesday, Plato will give Autosport.com his exclusive diary on his adventures, and took time out to tell us how it's gone so far

Jason Plato Q&A


"It's getting better - I reckon I'll be adjusted by tomorrow. I flew 1st Class, and slept most of the way, but still felt knackered when I got here!"


"I've been to the factory and then on to the Melbourne Cup [Australia's famous horse racing event] for some PR stuff. We did a shakedown at Phillip Island today, which went really well and I got back into the groove of driving the car again. It was useful because we found a few problems which could've bitten us during the race."


"Great fun, just what you'd expect from a 600-horsepower, rear-wheel drive machine. You have to use the loud pedal gently, because it's got a small diff' and a live rear axle, so it's always ready to bite you. In fact, it's quite a beast to hang on to! That's proper fun in terms of car control and the way I like to drive by pushing the car into corners, but you can only afford a couple of slides on the tyres and they're shot. The car has a lot of high-speed grip, thanks to the big wings, but it's quite lazy in the slow corners because it's so heavy. And because it understeers in the slow stuff you always want to hit the hot pedal to make it oversteer, or at least become neutral, but you have to think about the tyres. You have to be very committed on the brakes coming into the corners and try and use the front tyres to make them wear as evenly as the rears. It's a delicate balance, because it's so easy to trash the rears coming out of a second gear corner, of which there are many."


"It's nice to have a H-pattern gearbox again, purely because it means you have more chance of getting it wrong. It's part of the challenge - driving for the best part of four hours without a bad a gearchange. With a sequential, you can forget all about that. I think there's too much technology in racing anyway. Semi-auto 'boxes in F1? Get rid of them! Any idiot can flick a switch or paddle, not many can change gear on the brakes and steer with one hand through a fast corner. Get rid of technology and you'll make the racing better, because humans make mistakes."


"At Phillip Island we've been getting 290kph [180mph], but at Bathurst we'll top 300 on the Conrod Straight [186mph]."


"It's going to be a hell of challenge in these things! It doesn't take much to lock the rears up and they're not that good at stopping at the best of times. It's a very tight track and if you make a mistake on a committed lap, there's a good chance you're going to hit the wall. If you make a small mistake it soon escalates into a big one. I'm told the race pace will be 3s off qualifying pace - in my book, that's leisurely! I'm really looking forward to getting out there and giving it loads next weekend."


"Pretty good so far, but I guess we'll find out when the fans arrive over the weekend. They certainly know who I am from when I was here in '97, so maybe it'll be a bit more difficult for Yvan. The reaction from the guys within the Holden team has been great."


"They're going to have to take it softly, gently and not take risks. I think we're going to be allowed to get out there and chase after the win, and I think we've got the tools to do the job. A lot depends on if we get enough time in the car and adapt quickly enough. Once we've done an hour around there, I think we'll both be in the groove, maybe a couple of tenths off the ultimate pace, but right up there in the race."


"Alain's in a good car with Mark Larkham - certainly in the last couple of races over here Ford has been going very well. Matt's in a strong car too, because it's a new [Holden Commodore] VT, so they should be on the pace because they both know the track."

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