Had it not been for bad luck on more than one occasion, Jason Plato could well have ended the 2006 season with a second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title under his belt.
As it was, eight retirements told its own story in the final reckoning as he was forced to settle for second behind Matt Neal but the SEAT man goes into 2007 looking to put that right as the only front-runner to have a proven S2000 package behind him.
spoke to Jason to look to the year ahead…
We've had confirmation that Darren is going to partner you into 2007, it's looking like a strong season for SEAT.
Absolutely. Darren did a great job last year although generally 'Team Yellow' was hit by some bad luck and Darren had his fair share of it. From a team point of view, it is really important to have a harmonious line-up and me and Darren are good friends, we see each other socially and we don't live too far apart. I know he'll play a very straight bat and so will I. For starters, we've got a great atmosphere in the team and he's bloody quick so he will keep me honest, which is good as it's really important to have good competition within the team.
The fact is that we are starting with a car that we have a years worth of experience with, we know where it is good and where it is weak and also have the benefit of having a good pre-season testing plan in place where we can iron out a few little problems we had. We are going to start the season very strong but we can't underestimate anyone else, particularly those who haven't built cars as they are all good people.
SEAT have been in the BTCC for a good few years now but this will be the first season when the team has retained the same two drivers, every season before now you've had a new team-mate coming in to partner you. How important will that continuity be?
Really important because when Darren gets his bum in the car he is going to be straight on it and know what he likes on the car and it means that all our development work and pre-season testing isn't lumped on my shoulders – we'll have two drivers who can contribute to the team effort and try and move the car on, rather than what has happened in previous years where people have been learning about the car and learning about how the team works. That has all gone now and the continuity is really important and that is the way it needs to be.
You are seen as many peoples favourites for the title and some expect you to arrive at Brands Hatch and just run away it, but how do you see 2007 panning out?
It would be nice if that happened! Our car was very good at Brands last year and it is a circuit that suits the kind of build that our car is. That said, we have a couple of BMWs entering and we don't know how strong they will be, although we know how good that car is in the World Touring Car Championship. It's difficult at this time of year to predict anything because no-one really knows what is going to happen, but if you are a betting man I would say we are a reasonably good bet.
We've got a slight change to the calendar for the season ahead and are going to Rockingham – is that a change you are looking forward to?