24 March 2016
Plato 'never been as excited over technical package'
Despite embarking on his 18th campaign in the British Touring Car Championship, Team BMR's Jason Plato admits the Subaru Levorg is the 'most exciting technical package' he's been a part of in his career.
Double British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato has heralded the revolutionary Subaru Levorg as the 'most exciting technical package' he's ever been a part of, despite embarking on what will be the Team BMR driver's 18th campaign in the series.
The 94-time race winner was instrumental in attracting Subaru's return to motorsport and will spearhead the legendary Japanese manufacturer's debut in the BTCC alongside fellow double champion Colin Turkington.
Indeed, Plato admits becoming part of the Subaru Team BMR BTCC programme has regenerated similar emotions to when he joined the championship as a rookie with Williams Renault back in 1997.
Team BMR has some act to live up to, given Subaru's past glory in the WRC, but Plato has every faith that the Levorg's technical team, led by design guru Carl Faux, can deliver yet more success to the heritage of the iconic brand.
"What Carl [Faux] and his team have managed to achieve is something else. I've never been this excited about a technical package in my career. The last time I was this excited about a new programme was when I got my first drive with Williams Renault," said Plato.
"We're working with a massively iconic brand that has incredible heritage in motorsport, albeit in rallying. I was very good mates with Richard Burns and through him I became good friends with Colin McRae. Back in those days I was a fan of the brand and that passion of mine for Subaru has never changed.
"Now the rallying is gone, the Levorg has come and this is their future. It's been a perfect storm. The planets have aligned and we've got the product that we want. Subaru want to promote this car and we're very honoured to be intrusted in doing that.
The plan of bringing the unique concept of the RWD Levorg - powered by a Mountune developed boxer format engine, technology which has never been used in the BTCC before - had been long in the pipeline, Plato admitted. But the BMR driver explained turning the dream into a reality required a certain chain of events.
"Carl and myself, four months into MG programme back in 2012, we realised we were heavily compromised because we couldn't engineer problems out of the car. We looked at the potential development curve of what we had and it was disappointing," Plato continued.
"So we asked ourselves, what would be the Holy Grail? We did a bit of research and it was the Subaru. So Carl went away and did some initial calculations, regarding engine size and where it would sit, and within two weeks we realised this way to go. We just had to hope no one else thinks of this.
"The plan was always to get ourselves ready for something like this. Carl and I had this planned years ago. We just needed to bide our time and find a home, which we could trust, and we got that."
A late issue with the engine mount of their new challenger meant BMR missed the opportunity of showcasing the Levorg for the first time but Plato insisted there was method behind Subaru's on-track absence.
"One of the reasons why we're late is because we're not just designing the part and sticking it on at the first time of asking. Some components are on their fourth iteration before we've made one.
"We're not running today because we had a problem with one of the back engine mounts on Friday. We could have cobbled it on but we decided not to do that, it wasn't perfect. That meant we couldn't do a shakedown on Monday and we didn't want to do one today," Plato concluded.
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