Plato hails 'best day in BTCC' after two wins
Jason Plato clinched victory in the first and third of the BTCC races at Silverstone this weekend to keep him firmly in contention for the 2012 championship heading into the final round of the season.
Plato took his fifth pole position of the year in qualifying on Saturday, but still had to wait until Mat Jackson's Redstone Racing Ford Focus retired during the first race of the day before he was able to take the lead and hold it through to the chequered flag.
Plato had his own share of misfortune in the second race of the day when he, too, suffered the fate of retiring while in the lead which allowed Jackson to take the victory this time ahead of Robert Collard in the eBay Motors BMW 320si E90 and make it honours even at one-all.
It meant that Plato was was left facing the daunting prospect of a 20th place start on the grid for the final race of the day - and a storming ride through the field saw him make up all the lost ground and cross the finish line in first place.
"Despite the retirement in race two this is still one of the best days in my BTCC career," said an ecstatic Plato. "We've made more progress with our MG6 - in fact it's a rocketship - and our tails are well and truly in the air.
As a result of his efforts at Silverstone, Plato goes into the final round of the season at Brands Hatch later this month as one of four drivers still in contention for the 2012 championship. He'll be fighting it out with Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan for the title in three weeks time.
"For MG to go into the final round with a chance of lifting the title in its first year back in the championship is fantastic," said Plato. "I really believe we've got the Honda boys worried."
Coming out of Silverstone, Shedden leads by 15pts from Plato with Neal 31pts behind the leader. Andrew Jordan is 61pts behind Shedden going into the final round, and with 67pts at stake over the final race weekend is still in with a mathematical chance of stealing the title.
Shedden could have all-but locked up the title this weekend, but could only manage seventh in the first two races followed by a sixth place in the final event of the day. He admitted that it it hadn't been a good weekend for the Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic team.
"We knew this was going to be our bogey circuit so today was about picking up what crumbs we could - I don't think we could have wrung any more out of the car," he said, adding that he expected to be back on form again for Brands Hatch and make it an epic showdown for the championship with Plato, Neal and Jordan.
It had been an even worse day in Northamptonshire for reigning champion Matt Neal who retired from all three races, with his Honda catching fire in the second event and then collecting the barrier in the final race of the day.
"Today has been a shocker but I'm not out of it yet," he said. "There are still a lot of points to be won at Brands and I'll be going there with all guns blazing."