Racing Silverline driver Jason Plato has been tipped as the man to beat as the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship returns to action this weekend at Snetterton, even after missing the mid-season test at the Norfolk circuit.
Despite the late nature of his deal to join the RML-run team this season, the 2001 champion has enjoyed a solid season to date and heads into the second half of the year lying fourth in the championship standings behind Colin Turkington, Matt Neal and defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.
Plato has one win to his name this season – on the opening weekend of the year at Brands Hatch – but each of the three drivers ahead believe that the Chevrolet man could be the one to watch as racing resumes.
"Jason's shown at several recent rounds he can turn up to circuits where he has not driven that car before and really be difficult to beat and I don't think it'll be any different at Snetterton,” Turkington – who goes into the weekend with four wins in the last six races – said. “Also, we lost a decent portion of the Snetterton test due to heavy rain so I don't think we'll have stolen much of an advantage on him."
Vauxhall pair Neal and Giovanardi have also expressed concern that the high-speed nature of the Snetterton circuit – and the backing of RML – could work in Plato's favour.
"That Chevrolet is so fast on the straights - and at Snetterton there are two of the longest straights in the UK - that he doesn't need to worry about being quick around the corners!” Neal said. “I think he could be in a similarly strong position when we get to Silverstone later in the month - it's the kind of circuit where he might be untouchable. Colin's moved into a decent lead but Jason is very much in there with us now."