Jason Plato kept his nerve and survived no less than two interventions from the pace car to take a well deserved win in the sprint race at Snetterton.
Vauxhall finally had something to celebrate as Jason Plato
out manoeuvred his rivals to take victory in the sprint race at Snetterton. The race was dry throughout and the dusky conditions may have given some drivers a little problem when it came to visibility which could account for the two major accidents that punctuated the race in its early stages.
Plato in the Vectra was able to outdrag the heavier Ford Mondeo of Rickard Rydell off the line and into Sears for the first time. Behind the leading pair Tom Kristensen tucked the Honda into third place while Vincent Radermecker, James Thompson and Anthony Reid all disputed fourth place. At the back of the grid Gabriele Tarquini had made short work of the Class B machinery and was up to tenth behind Alain Menu and Matt Neal
by the end of Revett straight.
However this battle got a bit too close for comfort a short while later when Reid attempted a pass on the Honda coming out of the Bombhole. Thompson moved over to cover his position and contact was made, the Honda spearing into the barriers and coming to rest at the edge of the track.
This was enough to bring out the safety car as the stricken Honda was removed and Plato dutifully lined the rest of the field up for two slow laps. Behind him, Rydell and Kristensen both knew that they had been given a second bite at the apple and would both be gunning for Plato into the first corner. Radermecker still held onto fourth while Reid continued, apparently unscathed in fifth ahead of Yvan Muller and Menu.
When the field were unleashed for a second time, Plato once again got the drop and pulled out some fresh air into Sears but Kristensen took a dive down the inside of Rydell in an attempt to wrest second place away from the Swede. Rydell defended well though and was able to hold his place. Coming down Revett straight though, Kristensen was able to drag past the Mondeo and tuck into second place as the two drivers approached the chicane.
Behind them however there was chaos as Reid, Muller and Radermecker all made contact. Reid had challenged Radermecker on the inside of Riches but was blocked, contact was made which saw Radermecker swerve into the path of his closely following team-mate Muller, behind them both Menu and Neal arrived to a wall of smoke. Both drivers instinctively moved to the outside of the track but Muller's car was already there. Neal had time to move to the right but Menu didn't and the Mondeo gave the Vectra a hefty thump before cannoning into the outfield.
Once again Reid survived with only cosmetic damage whereas Radermecker, Muller and Menu were all out on the spot. Neal therefore inherited fifth place behind Neal while Tarquini in the only other surviving Super Touring machine, was now sixth.
Once again the safety car was deployed as the course workers cleared the wreckage. Hearts in the Vauxhall garage must have sunk to an all time low as two of their three cars were put on the back of the rescue vehicle although they still had Plato to salvage their day for them.