After two strong races at the weekend at Oulton Park, Jason Plato made the best out of what could have been a terrible weekend after his MG’s suspension failed before the start of the first race, but says the team are only just beginning to understand their MG6 NGTC car.
The 2001 and 2010 British Touring Car champion topped every session on Saturday, including the all important qualifying session to put his Triple Eight Race Engineering MG6 GT on pole position ahead of Honda rival Matt Neal, but was pulled off the grid just ahead of the start of race one at the Cheshire circuit after the suspension, which is a controlled component in the Next Generation Touring Cars (NGTC) failed.
From 22nd on the grid Plato drove up to third position in the second race, and from seventh on the reverse grid made his way up to second in the final race of the day to stay within 12 points of the BTCC drivers’ championship lead.
“We’ve had a drive from the back of the grid to third and we’ve come second in the final race, so pretty good really. Motor-racing kicks you in the teeth at times and it did a bit at Oulton Park, but nevertheless we managed to salvage something really good from the weekend.”
“With the success we’re having, it would be very easy to forget that we’re punching well above our weight at the moment. We don’t know the car, we’ve done no testing, I’m still not even in the right seating position. There’s a lot of stuff to get right and we’re only scratching the surface, so for us to be where we are with the problems we’ve got, we’re in good shape. I think when we get it right, the rest will be worried.”
The Triple Eight MG runs with a turbocharged 2.0 litre Swindon engine, with everyone else on the field also running turbocharged engines this year the arguments between normally aspirated and turbocharged cars have vanished, though there’s plenty of infighting between the turbo cars with different equalisation measures applied across the field.
“Last year without any shadow of a doubt was a farce, so the sooner I can erase that from my mind the better,” said Plato. “It’s no fun driving down the straight when people have got 70 horsepower more than you. The difference this year is we’re all about the same…I didn’t see me reeling in Matt Neal down the straight, it’s a lot more close and it’s much more fun.”
“It’s better for the crowds, it’s racing. I think what we do have to be careful of is the S2000 cars don’t get too quick down the straight because then they’ll be impossible to overtake. It’s not at that point yet, but if their boost keeps going up we could end up in the position where we cannot overtake the Fords or the BMWs. (The officials) have got to be mindful of that, but there’s a way to go before that can happen.”