After asking you to vote for your leading drivers from the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season, the time has come to start the count-down to the driver you voted the top star of 2008.

Over the next ten days, we will be revealing the top ten in reverse order, with the winner being revealed on Friday 14 November.

More than 7,000 votes were cast on the BTCC poll, with each drivers average score out of ten then being calculated to decide the winner.

BTCC Driver of the Year - third place:

Name: Jason Plato Team: SEAT Sport UK Car: SEAT Leon TDi (S2000) Wins: 8 Podiums: 4 Fastest laps: 5 Championship points: 223 Championship position: 3rd

The 2008 season could well have been the one where Jason Plato lifted a second BTCC title had it not been for misfortune and bad luck with his new diesel-powered SEAT Leon.

The team was late receiving its cars ahead of the season which meant Plato hadn't done much running heading to Brands Hatch, but a brace of podium finishes showed that the car had the potential to shine on British circuits.

It wasn't until round three that SEAT turned the Leon TDi into a winner as Plato took the first diesel win in BTCC history and he won again next time out at Thruxton. However, a disastrous weekend at Croft saw his chances take a major hit.

A mid-season test session at Snetterton meant SEAT were on the ball for the second half of the season, which Plato and team-mate Darren Turner locking out the front-row for four meetings in a row.

Through the second half of the campaign, Plato took six further wins but a raft of mechanical issues and an accident at Knockhill meant he wasn't able to make serious inroads into Fabrizio Giovanardi's lead.

Having discovered he would be without a drive for 2009 after SEAT pulled out of UK motorsport, Plato endured a trying end to his time with the team and lost second in the standings in the final race of the season.

"I can't take anything away from Fabrizio and Vauxhall," he said. "They have been the model of consistency and have had had the reliability. Since the middle of the season when we got to grip with our diesels, we have been quick but unreliable. That is through no-ones fault, it is just how it is sometimes. They have deserved to win.

"There are many fantastic memories I will take until the day I die from my SEAT years. My relationship with SEAT is a wonderful one and we are great friends who understand each other and work well together. I had the chance to mould the team and use the knowledge I gained from working with teams like Williams and Triple Eight.

"I remember the conversation I had with Mark McKenna, who was the head of marketing at SEAT at the time, two weeks prior to our first race when he said what are the goals for the season and I told him we'd win. He was dumbfounded but we went out and won at Thruxton. That was a special moment, not just for me, but for everyone as we realised we could do well. I've had a lot of wins with them since then and 70 per cent of their time in the BTCC they have been on the podium, which is amazing."

BTCC Driver of the year - Top ten:

4. Colin Turkington Team RAC
5. Andrew Jordan John Guest Racing
6. Tom Onslow-Cole VX Racing
7. Steven Kane Motorbase Performance
8. Adam Jones Team Aircool
9. Gordon Shedden Team Halfords
10. Mike Jordan John Guest Racing

Tomorrow: We enter the top two in the Driver of the Year poll?

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