Plato had worked his way up to fifth place earlier in the race, but it was clear he would get no further forward in the field. He came under pressure from team-mate Rob Huff, and also Dan Eaves, and those two discovered that the way past Plato was rather easy.
Come the last lap, Plato was trying very hard to gain the pole for race two. Michael Bentwood was already past him, and South Africa Shaun Watson-Smith and Tom Chilton were behind.
Watson-Smith, who is an experienced South African touring car driver, didn't let Plato outwit him and it was the odd sight of two touring car drivers braking on the Thruxton pit straight and saying 'after you.'
Plato explains what his tactics were all about. “The objective of the first race was always to push hard at the start and open up a gap so I could control the pace and finish tenth,” said the BTCC returnee. “The tactic worked well. I had a great start and kept out of trouble, and towards the start of the last lap I slowed down to let Rob and another car through entering the chicane. Although it was getting a little busy at the finish line, and I would prefer to be starting the second race on the front row of the grid, finishing eighth to start on the second row is really good.”
Up front and the action had not been quite what it could have been had there been just one lap to the race. “Matt was so fast at the end, I was just so surprised, by the pace he was taking 3 tenths out of me each lap and I wasn't hanging around, I was trying to win by as big a margin as possible,” explained Thompson.
Neal was giving his all in those final laps. “It was quick but I was being pretty hard,” explained Neal. “I thought if I can just get close to them and get drag down the straight on the last lap and make a lunge but it wasn't going to happen unfortunately.”
1. James Thompson
2. Matt Neal
3. Yvan Muller
4. Anthony Reid
5. Dan Eaves
6. Rob Huff
7. Michael Bentwood
8. Jason Plato
9. Shaun Watson-Smith
10. Tom Chilton