Photo: PSP Images

Jason Plato says reliability cost them their chance

Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Jason Plato lost out on the 2013 drivers’ title by 17 points, less than a race victory, after an up and down season which saw him win more races than anyone else, but also had five non-scores during the season.

The 2001 and 2010 BTCC champion put on a strong charge on Sunday at Brands Hatch, winning the first two races and taking full advantage of Eurotech Racing driver Andrew Jordan’s only retirement of the season to claw back from 49 points behind to be right in contention for the title by the last race of the day.

Reflecting on the 2013 season, Plato said:

“You can’t win a championship with five DNFs. You can’t win a championship when you’re leading races and the car breaks,” he told TouringCarTimes, “but that’s negative talk. We sorted out some issues we had and it’s been back on fire again.

“We’ve had the fastest car for the second half of the year and the reason why we haven’t won is because we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with a few mistakes. The Honda isn’t disadvantaged in a straight line anymore. It is to some of the other cars, but to us there’s nothing in it. (At Brands Hatch) we were on base boost the same as Honda, and only a few times have we had a 0.2 bar increase, but that’s 2hp. We’ve got a great race car, we just need reliability.”

Plato and Triple Eight will return to challenge for the title again for a third consecutive year next season with the MG6, with a development programme focussing on more speed and reliability over the winter.

“We need to invest in some more aero work and button down the reliability…we just need to make sure that when we’re quick we ram home the points. You can’t win every race, but when you are quick at the circuits where you are working well on you’ve got to score big,” he said.

Triple Eight plans to expand its UK operations next year, having ventured into the British GT Championship alongside with its touring car programme this season, which may see the team extend to three cars in the BTCC.

“We’re with MG next year and Momentum, KX, Tesco,” said team principal Ian Harrison to TouringCarTimes, and on the speculation of the team adding a third car he commented: “We may possibly be doing that.”

“We’re (also) expanding the GT programme, which has been quite a big success for us this year. I remember the first round at Oulton Park I was thinking how the hell are we going to get to the front in this, and then at the last round we were there on pole and leading by four seconds after an hour, so (we’ve) been on a fast track and it’s great racing, it gives us lots of opportunities as a business. They’re global cars, you can race them everywhere, so it’s something we’re going to expand on.”