Plato wins incident-packed Snetterton sprint

Jason Plato took a comfortable win in an incident-packed sprint race as dusk fell on Snetterton. The Vauxhall driver had to defend his pole advantage three times as the safety car was deployed twice in the early laps, while the damaged cars of Jason Plato, Alain Menu, Vincent Radermecker and Yvan Muller were cleared from the circuit

Plato wins incident-packed Snetterton sprint

"The win was really important for morale in the team," said Plato. "There's been a lot of work and late nights since Croft [where two Vectras were heavily damaged], so this is a real tonic. We've been knocking at the door for the last couple of meetings, but we just haven't got it quite right in the races. I didn't try any harder today, but it went well."

Plato led away from pole and immediately pulled away from the pack, but further back Thompson's Honda had thumped the barriers between the Bombhole and Coram after a run-in with Anthony Reid's Ford. Each driver blamed the other, and the safety car was deployed while the Accord was moved to safety.

At the re-start Plato again kept his car ahead, but second-placed Rickard Rydell found himself under attack from Tom Kristensen's Honda. Rydell defended at Sear, but was passed on the run up the Revett Straight. Meanwhile it had all gone wrong again at Riches. Drivers and officials are still examining video footage to determine exactly what happened, but the bottom line was that Reid, Radermecker and Muller all made contact. The Ford escaped unscathed, but both Vauxhalls spun and Menu clipped Muller's car before yumping across the field on the exit. "I was lucky not to roll," said the Swiss.

Further safety car laps followed and at the re-start Plato varied his tactics. "I showed them a different set of cards and it worked, but it was close," said Plato. Kristensen challenged him hard all the way to the Esses, but there he had to defend his own position and Plato stormed away. This time there were no further delays and the Englishman reeled off the laps to win.

Kristensen eventually pulled away from Rydell to an equally comfortable second place, while Rydell kept ahead of team mate Reid to be third. Michelin Cup winner (and only contestant this weekend) Matt Neal fended off a spirited attack from Gabriele Tarquini to take fifth place.

In Class B, Alan Morrison overcame the problems of starting at the back [the pin in his fire extinguisher had not been removed in qualifying] to take another easy win. Rob Collard held second for much of the race but retired with accident damage shortly after being passed by the Hondas of James Kaye and Mark Lemmer.

STOP PRESS
Vincent Radermecker is to give up his Vectra to team leader Yvan Muller for the Feature Race. The Frenchman's car is not repairable in time for the race, so Vauxhall has become the first team to make use of a new rule for 2000 which allows manufacturers to swap drivers between cars during race meetings.




1 Jason Plato (Vauxhall Vectra) 32m35.158s
2 Tom Kristensen (Honda Accord) 32m36.788s
3 Rickard Rydell (Ford Mondeo) 32m40.714s
4 Anthony Reid (Ford Mondeo) 32m41.160s
5 Matt Neal (Nissan Primera) 32m46.545s
6 Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Accord) 32m55.098s
7 Alan Morrison (Peugeot 306) 21 laps
8 James Kaye (Honda Accord) 21
9 Mark Lemmer (Honda Integra) 21
10 Marc Nordon (Nissan Primera)
Fastest lap: Plato, 1m09.395s, 101.26mph

Drivers' Championship: 1 Menu, 128pts; 2, Rydell, 127; 3 Reid, 126; 4 Muller, 107; 5, Plato, 101; 6, Kristensen, 91; etc.
Manufacturers: 1 Ford 368pts; 2 Vauxhall, 263; 3 Honda, 254.

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