Jason Plato has vowed that provided the 'substantial' finances can be found, RML will follow the lead of Vauxhall rivals Triple Eight in moving to turbo-powered, 'next-generation' (NGTC) power for its Chevrolet Cruzes in the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – and will 'blow everyone away'.
Defending champion Plato has regularly bemoaned the discrepancy between the turbo cars and non-turbo cars in the BTCC this year, and heading into the remaining two meetings of the season at Brands Hatch GP and Silverstone, he sits third in the title standings behind Honda Racing pairing Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden – and only in truth with an outside possibility of clinching a third series crown. Next year, he asserts, he intends to be competing on a far more level playing field.
“Theoretically, after a good win and a solid points score at Rockingham last weekend, I am still in with a shout of retaining my British Touring Car Championship title,” the 43-year-old wrote in his column for The Sun
, “but I know that – at best – it's unlikely unless series organisers TOCA continue to aim for engine performance parity between the turbo cars and my normally-aspirated Silverline Chevrolet Cruze.
“We might be in with a chance in the next round at Brands Hatch, but I'm sure in the series finale at Silverstone – a power circuit – I will be crushed, mushed, smashed and pulped by the turbos.
“That leaves me looking to next year already, and I can't say I'm too sad about that because, if I'm really honest, I haven't enjoyed this year's racing as much as I have in previous seasons. It has been an uphill struggle from the word 'go' – and fraught with these annoying difficulties over parity between the various types of engine.
“However, if all goes to-plan, I will be back next year ready to kick butt. If RML can get all the investment we need, which I have to say is substantial, we will be producing a turbo-powered, 'next-generation' Chevrolet Cruze – and, put simply, we will blow everyone away.
“I'm happy to go on-record as saying I hope to be driving for the team next year. There's no other team I want to drive for, as they are the greatest. If you look at RML and see what they've done with my chassis this year – and how they are dominating the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a similar car – you'd have to say they are the best on planet earth. I love them to bits, and I know they love me. RML and yours truly will either be on the grid next year with a car that can win – or we won't be there at all.”
Contending that he 'belongs' in the BTCC – where the racing is 'the best-of-the-best' – Plato added that due to that as well as family and business ties, he has no interest in spreading his wings and branching out to compete in the WTCC, and he went on to reflect, finally, upon his 'slight disagreement' with his old 'pal' Neal at Rockingham.
“Matt and I had a good chinwag after the racing,” he revealed, “and although we may have agreed to disagree – and there was plenty to disagree about – we both want to draw a line under the whole episode, move on and go racing.”