Reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato has confirmed that he will return to the series to defend his crown with the RML-run Chevrolet UK outfit in 2011 – and that he fully intends to pick up again from exactly where he left off at the end of last season.
Having campaigned a privately-run Chevrolet Lacetti under the Racing Silverline banner in 2009 – clinching the runner-up spot to Colin Turkington in the drivers' standings – Plato and RML gained factory support last year, and took full advantage of it as the British star went on to claim a second BTCC trophy with the WTCC-spec Cruze.
What's more, the seven victories he collected along the way in 2010 saw the 43-year-old tie with tin-top legend Andy Rouse at the top of the championship's record table on 60 triumphs apiece – but he insists that becoming the most successful driver in BTCC history is not what motivates him. Another title, however, most definitely is.
“The aim this year is to win the championship,” Plato told btcc.net
. “That's all everyone's focussed on. While the records are lovely, they're not important – those things are good for when you retire, and I'm not ready for that yet!
“We just want to continue the good work we did last year. We were very dominant at the end of last year, and we're hoping to start where we left off. We've got continuity in terms of staff and are starting from arguably the best position ever – at least in the three years I've been with RML.
“We all know what the turbo cars can do, but if you look at the performance of the NGTC-spec engines last year, the S2000 cars were competitive. We're not ready to run a turbo engine yet and we feel that knowing the package as we do – knowing the car, knowing the next engine development stage – we're confident we can mount a strong championship campaign.”
Although there has not yet been any official driver announcement from RML, the full line-up will be revealed in due course following the conclusion of sponsorship deals. In the meantime, the team is set to test at Brands Hatch on Wednesday next week (9 March) with plain-liveried cars.