Jason Plato says he feels confident that Team BMR will see an upturn in fortunes when the BTCC heads to Oulton Park this weekend for the fourth round of the year.
The double champion has endured a wretched season to date in 2017 at the wheel of his Subaru Levorg, having scored just one points finish through the opening nine races of the year.
The 49-year-old failed to even break into the top 20 last time out at Thruxton whilst team-mate Ash Sutton raced to three top eight finishes; the reigning Jack Sears Trophy winner being the only one of the BMR drivers to extract any kind of pace from the rear-wheel drive car.
However, having spent the final race in Hampshire focused on test and development, Plato insisted that he was now aware of where his current deficit to team-mate Sutton had come from, and was eager to move forwards when racing resumes in Cheshire.
“I haven’t forgotten how to drive between October and April, and to be honest I’ve been tearing my hair out,” he wrote in his Adrian Flux blog. “We found a problem at Thruxton with the chassis which was a carry over from the shunt at Brands Hatch. It’s a big problem but a very small thing to find. I now know why there’s a 0.5 second gap between me and Ash.
“I’ve struggled since Brands Hatch – I haven’t been able to get the front of the car working like I need it to work. Ash seems to be getting the front of the car working slightly better than the rest of us.
“We threw some radical stuff at the car [ahead of race three at Thruxton] and made a bit of a jump forward. We found something to give me the feeling in the front of the car back. In sector one, the twisty bits, I had the quickest split time of everyone in that race. It’s a big departure from where we’ve been as we were nowhere.”
Despite admitting that he expected a ‘much better feeling in the chassis’, Plato added that the straight line speed of the Levorg would still hamper his chances.
“We’re still nowhere in a straight line,” said Plato. “A Honda can go from back to tenth with maximum ballast and get 500th of a second off pole with 75kg on board, and that doesn’t seem right when we are miles off in a straight line.
“You cannot overtake in touring cars if you are down on power to the car in front, even if it’s 5hp. If you’ve got more power overtaking is easy. As we’ve seen from Honda and BMW, they can roar through the field like a dose of salts.”
Turbo boost analysis on the Subaru engine, as well as on the engine in the Ford Focus, will be carried out throughout the Oulton Park weekend.