Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Sunday

In the final chapter of his Bathurst diary, Vauxhall's BTCC ace describes how he and team-mate Yvan Muller finished in the top 10 of Australia's Great Race at the end of a long week of trial by water...well, rain

Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Sunday

OK, so we finished in the top 10, but I can't help feeling disappointed. After Yvan started, I jumped in the car in 19th place. As the end of my stint was approaching, I was fifth! I say near the end of my stint, because, unfortunately, it ended early.

Because of the lack of running we've had, I underestimated how much the weight balance would change with the decrease in fuel. I went forward two and a half turns on my brake bias, but it wasn't enough. I locked up the rears coming into the final corner and spun the b*****d into the sand and lost a lap. All that hard work, 19th to fifth, and we were looking really good...all gone.

The weather was up to its usual tricks. It was dry, then it rained, then harder, then not, then fog, then dry...so considering the uphill struggle we've had, 10th wasn't too bad a result, but it could have been so much better. I had the spin which put me in the gravel and a trip through the mud, plus Yvan also had a half spin into the dirt. Later on, on lap 120, I jumped up the inside of someone and he turned in on me and bent a trackrod, so I had almost half a turn of left-hand down lock to drive in a straight line.

It wasn't that hard to do stints of over an hour in the car. The cars are cool inside, unlike a BTCC machine. You get such a long rest on all the straights here, you just have to learn to relax and take one arm off the steering wheel, slow your heartbeat and then wind yourself up again as the corner approaches.

For the last 50 laps our oil temperature was 150-degrees and water at 138-degrees! We just had to back off. Yvan did a super job, bearing in mind he hasn't been here before. He just plodded away, banging in decent times, then I could jump in and push to capitalise on the great work he did. Because the weather dried up we had to do that extra fuel stop in the last stint, which was a shame, because we would've jumped up another six places if it had stayed wet. We just ran out laps, and would have run out of fuel.

Bearing in mind the way the week went, coming 10th is quite an achievement. If I'd not spun it off I think we'd have been in the top three, plus we were well ahead of the Longhurst/Besnard car earlier on, and that was in the lead of the race during the final stint until it crashed and lost a wheel.

All told, a very, very hard race but a fantastic experience - the team were incredible, all very professional. They had three cars in the top 10, [Mark] Skaifey's won the championship and, although Yvan and me are a bit down, we're not getting that from the team - they seem over the moon with us.

Now we're going to have a few beers because this is the official start of my off-season. I just hope we did enough to be invited back in the same circumstances next year and have a proper tilt at winning it with Yvan.

Jason Plato

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