Defending champion Jason Plato insists it will be hard to beat the turbo-powered cars when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Donington Park this weekend for the second round of the year.
The Silverline Chevrolet driver picked up a double win at Brands Hatch at the wheel of his normally-aspirated Cruze and takes an eight point lead into the second round of the season.
However, the double title winner admits that the high-speed Donington layout is likely to play to the strengths of those teams running the BTCC's Next Generation Touring Car turbo engine, with his aim being simply to take as much as is possible from the weekend as a result.
“I suspect I'm in for more than just a tough time at Donington,” he said. “At Brands Hatch I was able to get in front, then stick out my elbows a bit and hold them back – it's that kind of circuit. But Donington is very different. It's wider and there are longer straights and several uphill sections where the turbos will really stretch their legs.
“It's not a whinge, it's just fact – Donington along with Silverstone are the two places we're going to be most up against it compared to the turbo cars, so our strategy is simply to wring the car's neck and take the most that is possible from each race.”
However, Matt Neal – winner of the third race at Brands Hatch in his turbo-engined Honda Civic - insists that the full S2000-spec machines will be a thorn in the side of the turbo cars this weekend.
“I see where Jason's coming from when he talks of the turbos having an advantage on raw pace at Donington,” he said. “Certainly up the hills we'll be looking good, but over a race distance he will be somewhere in the mix – he always is. These turbo engines are still new to a lot of the teams so we're all still figuring out how to keep down the extra tyre wear they bring.
“Also we don't have the engine braking that he has with a normally aspirated engine and Donington is a very hard place on brakes – in a pre-season test we did there we were cooking our brakes within three laps, so we might have to play it a bit conservatively whereas Jason and the other Chevrolets will be able to push from start to finish.”