BTCC » 27 August 2012
Depressing day for Plato at Knockhill
One DNF, one finish outside the top ten, and finally a technical failure before he could even get started made for a gloomy report card for Jason Plato's 2012 Knockhill outing.
Jason Plato's hopes of challenging for the 2012 British Touring Car Championship title took a serious blow at Knockhill, with a string of disasters and disappointments thwarting him in each of the three races on Sunday.
Plato had gone into the Sunday events with high expectations, having claimed pole position for the first race in wet qualifying on Saturday. However he was resoundingly beaten away from the line by Rob Collard's rear-wheel drive BMW at the start, and then on lap 2 was hit from the rear by Ford's Aaron Smith and sent spinning into the gravel on the second lap, where he remained.
That meant that Plato joined his MG KX Momentum Racing team mate Andy Neate at the back of the grid for the second race of the day, but technical gremlins and issues with the set-up of the car left Plato on the wrong side of the top ten cut-off in 11th place by time the chequered flag came out, which meant he missed out on any help from the reversed grid system for the final Race Three that followed.
Not that it mattered: Plato did not even take the green flag, the engine gremlins having worsened the point where he was forced to pull into pit lane and climb out of the car even as the pole man Dave Newsham led the field away from the grid.
"The technical issue restricted my progress in Race Two and stopped it all together in Race Three," he said. "Being removed from Race One by the Ford set the tone for the day.
"I was optimistic for today following our Pole yesterday," Plato added. "But I guess it's never a great day when your best result is an 11th!"
"The contact from Smith in Race One has ruined Jason's day," agreed team principal Ian Harrison. "After a good qualifying yesterday, it's gone wrong ever since we got out of bed this morning."
Andy Neate's day scarcely ended any better. After finishing just behind Plato in 12th place at the end of Race Two, Neate gambled on wet tyres as the weather looked set to turn for the final race of the day. But the rain then held off after all, leaving Neate struggling before he came in for new tyres mid race, dropping him down to 17th.
"I thought it was worth taking a punt on the strategy in Race Three, having retired from Race One and struggling with the technical issue in two, but not even the weather would help me today!" said Neate. "A tough day at the office for me and all of the team."
"Andy's day has not been much better; he was unlucky with a wrong tyre call at the end there," added Harrison. "We have had a nightmare day to be honest," he continued. "It's put us in a compromised position in the championship now."
Plato remains in third place in the championship, but is losing ground on Matt Neal and Gordon Sheddon and under increasing threat from Andrew Jordan as they head into the next round on September 23.
"Let's forget about this weekend now and move on to Rockingham," concluded Harrison.
"Rockingham has to go better," sighed Plato in response.
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