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Plato: We don't want gifts, just a fighting chance

13 May 2011

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.

“I've not won more races [in 2011] for one specific reason, which is not anything to do with what we've been doing. It needs a big change, however I do believe TOCA are aware of that and I'm sure they want to change the status quo at the moment; it's all based on trying to keep the two formulas alive until the end of 2012 when we will all go turbo – but I'm sure it will get sorted.

“The frustrating thing from my point-of-view is that there's an awful lot of propaganda and nonsense being spoken, predominantly by the Honda drivers. All the garbage that came out of their mouths ahead of Thruxton about how the world was ending [when the maximum turbo boost was reduced] – and then they put it on pole by a second. Let's get real.

“We were all complaining last year – Matt Neal included – about the Team Aon Fords, but the new turbo cars have more boost than the LPG cars and no restrictor. It's so far out-of-bed. I had team managers that run turbo cars come up to me at Donington Park saying, 'we know it's wrong'. Even the team managers know, and if Matt Neal had any fibre of honesty about him, he would say it, too.

“Right now, unless we qualify on pole, we cannot win race one or two. All we can hope to do is luck in with the reverse grid – and that's not right. We should be in a position to challenge for pole at Oulton Park – but if nothing is done, we simply won't be able to. We don't want to be gifted wins; we just want to be able to compete.”


For more information about the versatile new Kärcher K6.610 – the most powerful water-cooled consumer pressure-washer ever – please visit: www.karcher.co.uk


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