Matt Neal and Jason Plato have been verbally warned by the stewards for the incident in race two, which saw them take themselves out of the battle for the lead on the penultimate lap.
Jason Plato was leading in his Triple Eight MG after starting from pole position courtesy of his race one victory. Plato became under threat from Honda Racing Team’s Matt Neal in the closing stages of the race, who had worked his way forward from sixth on the grid.
Neal hit the rear of Plato’s MG at Coram on lap 11, which allowed Neal past and into the lead, albeit briefly. Plato then ran into Neal’s car at Murrays which saw them both off the circuit and across the grass, allowing the two Hondas of Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden through into first and second.
“He just fired me off,” said Plato to TouringCarTimes.
“He’s followed me, he knows my line around there, last time I looked there is no overtaking point around there, and he fired me off at a fifth gear corner in front of the pack, not really on is it.”
“There’s places on this calendar where you don’t (mess) around – Craner Curves, Church, Goodwood, Allard…basically Thruxton; Druids, (then referring to Snetterton), Riches, and Coram is one.”
“(Neal) breaks the code of conduct between drivers, it’s just not on. I go for gaps and sometimes the gap closes, like at the beginning of the year with (Dave) Newsham, but there was a gap, I went for it, it didn’t work. But (today), we’re on the throttle, a little bit of brake and he just drove into me.”
“I am not an angel, but I don’t do those sorts of things. Yes I’m aggressive and yes I go for gaps, and yes I might tap someone into a little slow hairpin. Had he given me a little tap in one of the hairpins, I wouldn’t really be having this conversation as that happens in touring car races, I’ve done it, I’ve had it received, but what you do not do is you just don’t do that.”
Plato then hit Neal going into Murrays, which dropped Plato behind Jordan and Shedden and saw Neal fall to fifth place,
“If you want the truth, I fired into the back of him. I was assaulted, removed out of the race, I nearly went off; by stroke of luck or genius I didn’t go off, probably luck.”
Neal believes there was a gap however at the corner, after Plato appeared to be defending his position, but Plato says his lack of pace through the corners on the previous lap is due to tyre pick-up from a slight off at Hamilton.
“I tried to keep it tight around Coram, and he got a real wiggle on him and that put a bit of daylight up his inside, and so I put my nose up there to squeeze through and he tried to close the door,” said Neal. “That kicked his rear-end out. I lifted just so he could sort himself out, and then I thought I better get on with it because I know what’s going to happen when I come to Russell, but I didn’t expect it was going to be that hard.”
“It was a pretty pushy move,” admitted Neal referring to his pass, “but Jason had been driving around the inside, he brake-tested me a couple of times and was shifting down an extra gear through Riches.”
“The straight rear-end is a little bit of a cheap shot,” added Neal referring to Plato’s move.
The stewards have deemed both drivers at fault and have issued them with a verbal warning, the lightest penalty available. Since both drivers suffered a loss of track position because of the incident, the gain was effectively made by the two drivers behind them, with Gordon Shedden picking up his best result of the day in second and Andrew Jordan taking his first win of the season.