BTCC » 17 August 2008
Round 22: Plato takes Knockhill opener.
Jason Plato took victory in the opening HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Knockhill with a lights-to-flag win in race one.
Plato made the ideal start to jump ahead of team-mate Darren Turner off the line and was then able to control the race from the front despite a number of Safety Car periods and following pressure throughout from the Vauxhall of Tom Onslow-Cole.
While Plato led the field into SEAT Curve for the first time, Turner was under pressure immediately from Onslow-Cole, who had started the race from third place in his Vectra. The two went side-by-side through the corner but contact through Leslie's was enough to send the SEAT slightly wide through Scotsman and saw Turner plummet down the order. It left Onslow-Cole second ahead of Colin Turkington, Matt Neal, Mat Jackson and defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi. Further down the order, a strong start for Steven Kane came to nothing as he was tagged into a spin by Adam Jones coming through the Hairpin and dropped to the back of the field.
Plato had opened up a lead of more than two seconds on the opening lap alone, but his lead was soon nullified when the Safety Car was deployed following an incident at Carlube that saw Martyn Bell go off into the barrier after contact from the SEAT of Chris Stockton.
One the Astra was removed from the gravel, the race resumed on lap six, with Onslow-Cole setting about trying to find a way past Plato into the lead. However, the race had barely got back underway before the Safety Car was back on track as Jason Hughes and Micky Doyle went off into the barriers on the outside of the John R Weir Chicane – putting the race under caution for the second time.
At that point, Plato led from Onslow-Cole and Turkington, with Giovanardi having climbed to fourth ahead of Jackson and Shedden who was making progress from his tenth place starting position. Tom Chilton, Andy Jordan, a recovering Turner and Rob Collard rounded out the top ten, while Matt Neal had slipped off the lead lap having been forced to pit with a puncture.
The race resumed once again on lap 13 with Onslow-Cole looking at Plato into the Chicane at the end of the lap but being unable to find a way past the 2001 champion. Further back, team-mate Turner was continuing his recovery drive and dived ahead of Andy Jordan into eighth place.
Turner's race wouldn't last much longer however as he was then forced to retire on the following lap while dicing for seventh place with Chilton. Heading into Carlube, Turner went for the inside and forced both cars to run wide coming out of the corner. As the pair ran across the gravel, slight contact was enough to send Turner spinning back across the circuit into the barriers and out of the race, while Chilton was able to continue but dropped out of the top ten.
With Shedden having got ahead of Mat Jackson into fifth place, lower end of the top ten now saw Andy Jordan seventh from Adam Jones, Harry Vaulkhard and Rob Collard. On lap 15, Collard took ninth from Vaulkhard while on the following lap there was a change further up the order as Turkington ran slightly wide out of the Chicane and lost position to both Giovanardi and Shedden.
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