BTCC » 25 July 2004
Plato leads SEAT to dream double at Croft.
Jason Plato made Croft a meeting to remember for the SEAT Sport UK team by leading Rob Huff home for the teams second one-two finish of the day.
The duo had to overcome constant pressure, and a late charge from Colin Turkington, throughout the race as less than three seconds covered the top five finishers.
From the start, Huff got the jump on his teammate to lead into Clervaux with Plato taking second ahead of James Thompson and Dan Eaves. However, Eaves wouldn't hold position for long, a late braking Turkington in the MG barging past the Computeach Honda at Sunny on lap three.
With Huff comfortable in the lead, it appeared that Plato was being employed as a buffer to help his young teammate collect a first BTCC win, but on lap five Huff slowed at the hairpin allowing Plato through on the inside and into the lead.
With both Plato and Huff both carrying success ballast, a train of cars soon developed with the SEAT's running nose to tail with Thompson, Matt Neal, Colin Turkington and Yvan Muller – just 2.15seconds separating them at the end of lap seven.
The man on a mission appeared to be Turkington. Having already seen off one orange Honda, he set about the second swarming all over the back of Neal. Heading into Tower on lap nine, Turkington launched an attack on Neal but was unable to make the move stick. Fellow MG driver Anthony Reid was also on the move. He drove his battle scarred around the outside of the Proton of Shaun Watson-Smith at Tower, edging ahead to take seventh on the turn into Clark.
Neal's afternoon came to an early end on lap eleven when he slowed with engine trouble on the run upto Clark and was forced to retire. That released the charging Turkington to hunt down Thompson's Astra and on lap twelve he launched a late move down the inside of the Vauxhall going into the high speed Sunny In corner. Turkington nudged the ZS ahead and, despite a fightback from Thompson on the run to the complex, made the move stick to take third.
Turkington was then free to charge after the SEAT's, although only two laps remained with a gap of nearly two seconds to make up. However on the final lap, Turkington had one opportunity to steal second when Huff ran slightly wide on the exit of tower, but he was able to make the Toledo Cupra wide enough to keep the MG behind, giving the delighted SEAT team an unexpected one two finish.
Turkington was rewarded for his fine drive with a podium finish while the Vauxhall duo of Thompson and Muller had to settle for fourth and fifth. Reid, who set the fastest lap in each of the three races, took sixth ahead of Tom Chilton and Luke Hines. Rob Collard ended a difficult weekend with ninth, with Watson-Smith putting the Proton in the top ten for the second successive race.
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