After years of bickering both on and off the track, Jason Plato has revealed that he has buried the hatchet with arch rival Yvan Muller – during filming of a new commercial for SEAT.
The commercial sees SEAT touring car drivers involved in a race to try and get behind the wheel of the Spanish marques new Ibiza SC, with Muller one of the drivers involved thanks to his involvement with SEAT's World Touring Car Championship team.
Plato and Muller were embroiled in one of the most heated battles in the history of the British Touring Car Championship during their time together in the series – with the relationship between the pair virtually falling apart during the 2001 campaign when they teamed together with Vauxhall.
Then, contact between the pair during the feature race at Silverstone during the penultimate race weekend of the year saw Muller refuse to shake Plato's hand on the podium. Indeed such was the wrangling within the team that Plato left at the end of the season only to return in 2004 with the new SEAT Sport team.
As rivals for two different teams, the bickering continued right through to the end of 2005 when Muller left to move to the WTCC – and even then the pair ended up parked together in the Paddock Hill gravel trap during the final race of the year at Brands Hatch.
However, the filming session in Spain allowed Plato and Muller the time to sit down and settle their differences, and the Briton admitted that he has a new found respect for his French rival – who could secure a first WTCC crown this weekend if results go his way in Japan.
“It was actually really nice to spend some time away from the track with people who have, over the years, become friends, arch rivals and friends again,” Plato admitted to the official BTCC website. “Yvan and I spent a lot of time together and had great fun.
“Maybe it's because we are a little older and wiser, or maybe it's because we never had an opportunity to chat like this before, but we revealed a few truths about the past and buried a few hatchets.
“Not everything we assumed to be true was and it was great to share a laugh and a joke with somebody who I have always admired as a racing driver and whom I now have an awful lot more respect for off the track, too.”