Crash.Net BTCC News
Plato wins at Thruxton
11 April 2004
It is only their second race in the British Touring Car Championship, but SEAT today took a race win at the hands of series returnee Jason Plato.
In an action packed thriller, which saw an early safety car after a coming together between Matt Neal and race one winner James Thompson, Plato pushed his way to the front early on, and held off the insistent Frenchman impeccably.
From the start of the first reverse grid race of the season it was clear there was going to be plenty of action. Polesitter from finishing the first race in tenth place was Tom Chilton in the matt black Honda Civic, but the teenager failed to make the most of his start at the head of the field, and set off very slowly indeed as the rest of the field barrelled past him.
Benefiting from Chilton's tardiness was Dan Eaves who pushed his Honda to first, whilst Jason Plato's SEAT looked strong. Plato was looking to the outside of the South African Shaun Watson-Smith's Proton, when in the first corner Watson-Smith ran wide, meaning that Plato on the outside too ran wide, allowing team-mate Rob Huff through to the lead.
Further back in the field, Anthony Reid also had an off-road moment and lost a large number of places in the hectic start.
First lap completed, the line-up saw Dan Eaves from Rob Huff, with Plato, Yvan Muller, Michael Bentwood, Watson-Smith, Matt Neal and James Thompson behind.
Thompson had dominated the first race, though Matt Neal had been closing him in to come second earlier today. The second race battle between the duo didn't last that long.
Unseen by the television cameras, Neal and Thompson had a coming together which left Neal in the tyre wall and Thompson stranding with an non-functioning car in the middle of the track.
With Thompson's steed immobile there was no option but for the safety car to come out. Before the Audi had taken to the circuit, Plato had made his second place back from team-mate Rob Huff, the second SEAT man then seen circulating minus a front bumper, as he crossed the start finish line now behind Plato, Muller, Bentwood, Watson-Smith and Rob Collard.
Three laps later the safety car returned to the pits and Plato was on a charge with intent. Dan Eaves did what he could, but Plato was through after a couple of laps of keen attention to the rear of Eaves' Honda.
Plato took the Team Dynamics/Halfords man around the outside, with Yvan Muller adopting the same approach to get past. With over ten laps to go the pattern for the rest of the race up was set. Plato, using all his experience and racecraft, kept his car positioned precisely where Muller didn't want it for corner after corner, lap after lap.
It was thrilling stuff. Plato simply didn't make a single mistake, whilst everyone watching was just waiting for contact from these two, who haven't had the most friendly of histories.
Muller dropped back a little for a time, and made a final charge at the SEAT ahead, but ultimately it wasn't to be enough to take the victory, and an ecstatic Plato who took SEAT's first win in the British Touring Car Championship.
“It was sensible, but then the championship is thirty races we won't win it this afternoon,” said Muller after the race, when he revealed that he was not happy with the setup of his car.
Plato, meanwhile, was rather happy. “One of the most enjoyable races I've ever had,” he said. “We never dreamt in a million years that we would be in the position f=to race for wins and now we have so a big thanks to everyone.”
Behind the duelling duo was VX Racing Jr driver Michael Bentwood who showed he can drive front wheel drive well too, with a very fine third place. Dan Eaves, after his time at the head of the field, maintained his fourth place from the attentions of Rob Collard, whilst Anthony Ried worked his way back through the field to sixth place. Top ten
1. Jason Plato
2. Yvan Muller
3. Michael Bentwood
4. Dan Eaves
5. Rob Collard
6. Anthony Reid
7. Luke Hines
8. Shaun Watson-Smith
9. James Kaye
10. Colin Turkington