Plato takes record 61st BTCC win

Jason Plato won the first round of the 2011 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this afternoon, giving him a record total of 61 wins in the series

Plato takes record 61st BTCC win

The reigning champion started his RML Chevrolet Cruze third and grabbed second from Andrew Jordan's Eurotech Racing Vauxhall Vectra into the first corner.

Poleman Matt Neal led into the corner his Honda Racing Civic, but slid wide allowing Plato to snatch the lead on the run to Druids. When they arrived at the tight right-hander, Neal was removed from the action in a clash involving Jordan and Plato's team-mate Alex MacDowall, who emerged third behind Plato and Triple 8's James Nash.

After a brief safety car period to clean up the mess, Plato bolted, chased by Nash's Vectra, while Tom Chilton's Arena Motorsport Ford Focus attacked MacDowall. He went by on the back straight and completed the move at Clearways despite a grassy excursion at Surtees.

The Motorbase Performance Focus of Mat Jackson followed Chilton through and would shadow Chilton for the rest of the race.

Nash gained on Plato in the closing stages, indicating the turbo teams are not suffering too heavily from tyre wear, but the double champion held on to become the most successful BTCC driver ever with his 61st career victory.

Behind Chilton and Jackson in third and fourth came MacDowall. Fifth place could have fallen to Jordan, who fought his way past MacDowall and Tom Boardman's Special Tuning SEAT Leon only to suffer a front-left puncture.

Neal's team-mate Gordon Shedden completed the top six after a fighting drive from the back of the grid following his free practice crash.

Boardman pitted after a clash with Shedden, leaving Paul O'Neill to take seventh in his first race with the ex-Plato Chevrolet run by Tech-Speed.

Tony Gilham was the top newcomer, with a fine run to eighth in his Triple 8 Vauxhall Vectra, ahead of Eurotech's Jeff Smith. BTCC debutant Dave Newsham (Geoff Steel Racing) completed the top 10 and was the top BMW runner, helped by WSR's Rob Collard colliding with Liam Griffin's Motorbase Performance Focus on one of the warm-up laps.

Results - 24 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 20m31.736s 2. James Nash Triple 8 Vauxhall + 0.709s 3. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 4.318s 4. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford + 4.746s 5. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet + 13.078s 6. Gordon Shedden Honda + 14.663s 7. Paul O'Neill Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 15.260s 8. Tony Gilham Triple 8 Vauxhall + 16.259s 9. Jeff Smith Eurotech Vauxhall + 21.946s 10. Dave Newsham Geoff Steel BMW + 23.508s 11. Andy Neate Arena Ford + 24.798s 12. Nick Foster WSR BMW + 26.706s 13. Tom Onslow-Cole AmD Volkswagen + 28.240s 14. John George Tech-Speed Chevrolet + 1 lap 15. Chris James ES Chevrolet + 1 lap 16. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Vauxhall + 1 lap 17. Rob Collard WSR BMW + 2 laps Retirements: Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 22 laps Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota 15 laps Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 13 laps Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 0 laps Matt Neal Honda 0 laps 
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Neal takes pole for BTCC opener

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