Jason Plato secured his first British Touring Car Championship podium finish of 2017 at Croft, but admits he is still chasing the balance of his Subaru Levorg.

The 95-time race winner enjoyed his strongest weekend of the season so far, which culminated in Plato beating Rob Austin to third position by just 0.041s following an enthralling race three battle.

Plato spent the best part of the reverse grid race glued to the rear of Austin before finally out-dragging the Toyota Avensis to the line after getting a superior exit from the final hairpin.

The Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver said an overheating issue with his engine hindered his attack, which meant he had to maximise the traction of his Levorg in order to move past Austin.

"I could get better traction than Rob [Austin]. But the problem was I couldn't make the move stick down at the end [of the straight]. The battle with Rob cemented our thoughts and data that for some reason my engine has been down on power all weekend compared to the other BMR motors." Plato told Crash.net.

"It's been running hot all day and it's not been producing. We're down compared to the other cars after the 4th to 5th gear change.

"Rob had everything else covered, he drove a very canny and smart race, for the first time this year I was having real racing fun. He knew I was strong on the exit of turn 3 and positioned his car inch perfect, - that was my move today [Sunday] and Rob locked the door!

"So the only option was 'right, I've managed a couple of times during the race to make the undercut on the exit of the final hairpin and get a tiny bit in front by the finish line only to be out-dragged by the end of the straight, but all I needed to do was get to the line first.

"For the last 2 laps I was looking and trying different lines into the hairpin to compromise Rob's exit. - it paid off."

Along with the Subaru outfit having to adapt to regulation changes, which has altered the Levorg's centre of gravity, Plato's season has been compromised by ongoing balance issues following his start-line shunt at Brands Hatch.

The former double BTCC champion says the legacy of the damage sustained from the crash has presented a catalogue of challenges whilst setting up his Team BMR prepared Levorg, although some progress does appear to be on the horizon.

Speaking after his podium result, Plato said: "Yes absolutely [the podium is good for the confidence]. But unfortunately I've never been in this territory in my life.

"It's clear, there's been something wrong with my car ever since the shunt at Brands. Because I don't have the same level of grip as Ash [Sutton] has. That's clear in the data.

"So we're now in a position in having to set the car up to oversteer in order to counteract the understeer. Any time we try and cure the oversteer, we just end up back with entry understeer - which I can't work with, I need a car that has a very strong almost over pointy front end all the way into the apex.

"So you end up being really passive and submissive to the car because I'm totally averse to making changes to reduce the oversteer in the setup for fear of ending up back with a numb understeer balance.

"I'm not at the right level of performance with the balance. I can get somewhere close but I can't find the sexy bit where me and the car become one. In all my years of racing I have always been able to get on top of the setup very quickly.

"In pre-season testing that was the case but since the shunt at Brands, I feel that my car is deaf to my requests.

"We're starting to make some progress but I'm not a happy bunny when I'm not competitive. That said, there is truck loads of will and determination to get the job sorted. The summer break is so needed and is going to be busy."

 

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