BTCC: Double podium for Plato
Posted on March 31, 2014 | By Editor | Leave a response
Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan enjoyed a stellar start to his title defence after scoring lights-to-flag victories in the opening two rounds of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
The reigning champion didn’t have it all his own way, however, as the eBay Motors BMW of Colin Turkington took the honours in the final thrilling encounter at the legendary Kent circuit.
Two podiums for MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save driver Jason Plato and promising results for Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal on the debut of the Honda Civic Tourer mean just nine points separate five drivers after the opening weekend. Starting from pole position in races one and two, Jordan fended off separate challenges in each from two former champions. Plato’s MG6 kept the Honda Civic honest in the season opener, whilst Shedden’s Tourer latched on to Jordan’s title-winning Pirtek car in the second contest.
Despite growing pressure in each race, Jordan produced mature drives in both to take the wins and put himself in an early lead of the standings.
Neal claimed the first ever BTCC podium for an ‘estate’ style car when he hauled his all-new machine to third place in race one, whilst Ulsterman Turkington made the rostrum in the next race with a hard-fought third place. 2009 champion Turkington enjoyed an even better end to the weekend when he passed his BMW team-mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster to a claim popular victory in the final contest. It was a BMW 1-2-3 off the line as the rear-wheel drive cars blasted their way down to Paddock Hill Bend for the first time in race three. Rob Collard led from Nick Foster initially but Turkington eventually put both to the sword with separate moves, the final being a clever manoeuvre through Clearways and down the Brabham Straight.
Old adversaries Neal and Plato eventually hustled their respective Honda and MG machines past Turkington’s two team-mates to complete the podium positions, ending an exciting opening day of the tin top season. Plato set the fastest lap of the race along the way, but couldn’t quite manage to pass Neal’s Honda.
Further down the order there were contrasting results for the two returning champions in Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi.
Swiss driver Menu closed out the event on a real high as he piloted his VW CC from 16th on the grid to take fifth at the finish, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators present. Menu benefitted late on in the contest by being on the standard compound Dunlop tyre whilst most of his rivals were on the faster-degrading soft rubber. Giovanardi could only manage a weekend’s best of ninth place on his debut for the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus team.
Britain’s biggest and best championship now rolls on to Donington Park where the next three rounds take place over the Easter weekend (19/20 April).
Jason Plato said: “We were the quickest car on the soft tyres in the last race that’s for sure. I didn’t have weight on which helped me pick my way through the field, but it was great racing – really great! I actually wanted to have a go for the lead, but Matt knows how to drive a wide line and he does it very well. I like racing through the field like that – it’s good fun!”
2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch Indy – Race 1
1. Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing): 24 Laps
2. Jason PLATO (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save): +0.536
3. Matt NEAL (Honda Yuasa Racing): +9.396
4. Gordon SHEDDEN (Honda Yuasa Racing): +9.806
5. Rob AUSTIN (Exocet Racing): +10.156
6. Rob COLLARD (eBay Motors): +13.133
1. Andrew JORDAN (Pirtek Racing): 27 Laps
2. Gordon SHEDDEN (Honda Yuasa Racing): +0.505
3. Colin TURKINGTON (eBay Motors): +0.709
4. Matt NEAL (Honda Yuasa Racing): +1.742
5. Nick FOSTER (eBay Motors): +2.094
6. Rob COLLARD (eBay Motors): +2.519
1. Colin TURKINGTON (eBay Motors): 27 Laps
2. Matt NEAL (Honda Yuasa Racing): +1.114
3. Jason PLATO (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save): +1.446
4. Robert COLLARD (eBay Motors): +2.432
5. Alain MENU (Chrome Edition Restart Racing): +2.660
6. Gordon SHEDDEN (Honda Yuasa Racing): +3.378
Click here for the classification from Brands Hatch.
Aron Smith received a five place grid penalty and two points on his licence for driving in a manner incompatible with general safety in race one
Martin Depper was excluded from the result and received four points on his licence for driving in a manner incompatible with general safety in race one
Marc Hynes was excluded from the result and received four points on his licence for driving in a manner incompatible with general safety in race two
Aron Smith, Warren Scott and Jack Goff all received time penalties for gaining an unfair advantage behind the safety car in race two
Jack Clarke will receive a five place grid penalty in race one at Donington Park after driving in a manner incompatible with general safety in race three. He also received three penalty points.