In a very candid interview, reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato has sought to explain his opposition to the current turbo regulations in the series, insisting that he is not merely 'whingeing' and explaining that 'we don't want to be gifted wins...we just want to be able to compete'.
Having claimed his second BTCC crown with Racing Silverline last year, Plato headed into the 2011 campaign as most observers' favourite to successfully defend it – and a brace of triumphs in the curtain-raising outing around Brands Hatch's short Indy Circuit seemed to reinforce that general impression.
Then came Donington Park, however, and that
shunt [more of which in another feature to appear over the weekend
], but even before his Chevrolet Cruze was redesigned in such spectacular fashion, Plato had been unable to keep pace with the turbocharged brigade in Leicestershire – and it was more of the same at Thruxton a fortnight later, with the Hampshire circuit's high-speed layout really emphasising the chasm in performance between the turbos and their normally-aspirated rivals.
A reduction in the turbos' boost ahead of the third meeting on the 2011 BTCC calendar yielded little discernible difference, and whilst underlining his confidence in organisers to remedy the unequal situation, the new championship record-holder in terms of outright race victories – having overtaken tin-top legend Andy Rouse earlier this year – argues that as things stand, the rules are making a mockery of fair racing.
Plato spoke to Crash.net
as he promoted the new, ultra-powerful Kärcher K6.610 pressure-washer – nicknamed 'The Beast' and produced by the same manufacturer that has so famously cleaned some of the world's most iconic monuments, including Mount Rushmore in the United States and the Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro – and he described it as 'amazing, and a product everybody should have...it's revolutionary in its market, an all-singing, all-dancing beast'.
“From a personal point-of-view, I'm really pleased with the way the whole Silverline Chevrolet team has started the season,” the 43-year-old reflected, returning his attentions to the BTCC and quipping of the present five-week break in the schedule that 'I get itchy feet when I'm not in the car!'
“We've definitely improved upon the car that won the world championship last year; we've made it quicker, and better than the car we had at the end of 2010, which certainly in the last three or four rounds was the car to be in. I'm really pleased with that progress, and we had a good opening event at Brands Hatch, where we won two of the three races. That was a great start to the year.
“If I'm really honest, though, I'm not pleased with the way the series is going. We were promised equality by the organisers between the turbos and non-turbos – but we are so far away from that. I have never been 1.2 seconds off pole in my life, and that was what we were at Donington Park. I was a second off pole at Thruxton with a lap that was a lap of the gods and that in any other year would have put me on pole there. Fabrizio Giovanardi and the Vauxhall Vectra were always the package around Thruxton – and we bettered his time.
“We know what's wrong; we know the turbo cars have way too much boost. The turbos are on average 1.2 to 1.5 seconds quicker than they have ever been before, and that needs to be addressed. There needs to be a big change in the boost; 0.1 bar won't make any difference. They should have a restrictor. That sounds like a whinge, but it simply isn't – had TOCA not promised us anything, we wouldn't have a beef.