Jason Plato sits eighth in the standings
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
In this eight part series I will be looking at each of the eight drivers who have a mathematical chance of winning the 2016 British Touring Car Championship. Firstly, eighth places Jason Plato.
Would a British Touring Car Championship be right without Jason Plato in with a chance of winning the series? He has come second five times and won it twice in 2001 and 2010 and this year he has another, albeit slim, chance of being crown champion for a third time.
With all four Team BMR Subaru cars running late, meaning that they missed the media day at Donington Park at the start of March, there was always a possibility that the team would encounter a slow start. Despite the optimism surrounding the team, Plato, along with his trio of teammates struggled with pace and reliability in the early rounds with Plato’s added handicap of having to get used to read wheel drive, the first time he’d raced the configuration in the BTCC.
This slow start meant that for the first six races, Plato only achieved a single point’s finish, a 13th in the second race at Brands Hatch. Following a fiery end for Plato’s teammate James Cole at Donington the team made the decision to withdraw from the next three rounds at Thruxton on safety grounds.
However a strong return at Oulton Park showed the series what Plato was capable of. Three third places and a fastest lap in the first race of the weekend around a notoriously difficult place to overtake was a very strong effort and proved that he was acclimatising to rear wheel drive. Oulton Park was also the first time in 2016 that the Subaru Levorg looked like a car with championship winning potential, a testament to the Team BMR squad following a tricky opening three rounds.
Croft was another successful weekend for Plato, achieving two second place finishes and a tenth. In both the first and second races of the day he found himself battling for the lead, however in the second race, he went for an overtake on teammate Turkington which ended in contact, gifting the race to third placed Rob Collard. It was a move neither could be blamed for however it showed Plato’s confidence was growing.
Three more strong points finishes at Snetterton were followed by Plato’s best weekend of the year to date at Knockhill. He achieved his first victory of the year in race 1 from pole and followed it up with two third places, results which propelled him to seventh in the standings.
Rockingham race 1 gave Plato his fourth consecutive podium, making up a place from fourth on the grid however since then he has only achieved one top 5 finish, the second race of the day at Silverstone. However despite this he has constantly been in the points.
Plato’s championship challenge has been founded on the second half of the season following the slow start Team BMR encountered. Despite forever being optimistic at the start and talking about how it was a long project, he and the rest of the team will be cursing those early season issues and would be hoping the season started at Oulton Park. Although Plato is still in the title hunt, a huge amount of permeations will have to occur to ensure that he is crown 2016 British Touring Car Champion.