BTCC » 3 September 2006
Round 22: Plato leads SEAT 1-2.
NB:Turner was later given a 20sec penalty for the Safety Car infringement - dropping him to tenth place
Jason Plato led home team-mate Darren Turner for a one-two finish for SEAT in the opening race for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill.
Plato started the race from pole position and made the perfect start to lead the field into SEAT Curves for the first time with Turner getting a solid getaway to follow his team leader and the SEAT pair controlled the race from the front, despite two Safety Car periods, to repeat the result of the opening race last time out at Snetterton.
Behind the front two, Gordon Shedden held third off the start with title rivals Matt Neal and Colin Turkington behind in fourth and fifth, but the Team RAC man hit problems on the second lap when he ran wide out of John R. Weir chicane while under pressure from the third Halfords Honda Integra of Gareth Howell to drop back to eighth place. However, the three orange cars were unable to work together to put the leaders under pressure when Shedden headed to the pits to change a tyre after a puncture following contact with Turner while trying to take second at the hairpin.
That pit-stop coincided with the first Safety Car period of the race which occurred when the Honda Civic of James Kaye went off into the barriers at Clark's. Kaye had been battling at the lower reaches of the top ten with Mark Proctor and Mike Jordan – who started from the back of the grid – but apparent contact with Jordan's Integra saw Kaye spin off and with his car in a dangerous place, the yellow flags came out. Also out of the race at the same time was Richard Marsh in the Team Farecla Peugeot who out-braked himself into the first corner and hit the rear of Martyn Bell in the Geoff Steel Racing BMW, Bell returning to the pits before he also retired.
As the field circulated behind the Safety Car, Plato led from Turner, with Neal, Howell, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Rob Collard completing the top six. The restart allowed Plato to break away from the pack as Turner held up the pursuers, but within a lap there had been significant movement in the pack as Giovanardi took fourth from Howell.
However, before there had been any other changes, the Safety Car was back on track after Gavin Smith got it all wrong coming out of the bottom of SEAT Curves and span sideways, collecting Dave Pinkney who was innocently turning into Scotsman when he t-boned by the Astra Sport Hatch – then exiting the car to show the Irish driver exactly what he thought of the move in the full gaze of a live TV camera.
During the Safety Car period, Rob Collard pulled off with a suspected electrical problem before the race restarted on lap 20. In the closing laps, Plato and Turner were comfortable out front en-route to the flag, with Neal completing the podium.
Having re-passed Giovanardi, Howell claimed fourth place from the Italian, with the top six completed by Jordan's Eurotech Integra, Jordan holding off the challenge of a storming Shedden who had pitted twice during the race and also suffered a drive through penalty for exiting the pit lane while a red light was showing during the first Safety Car period – the local hero producing a fine recovery drive to finish inside the top eight, posting the fastest lap in the process. Turkington had to console himself with eighth after dropping back in the final stages, with Jason Hughes and Mark Proctor completing the top ten, the latter with a battle scarred Honda after contact during the race.
Adam Jones in the Lexus and Tom Chilton, who pitted to check the car after a spin into the tyres, completed the finishers.
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