Jason Plato has brushed aside comments made about him by 'cocky' Tom Chilton and instead says he's hungrier than any of his rivals to win this year's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship crown.

Plato, the 2001 BTCC Champion, enters his third season driving for SEAT and, with the manufacturer's new Leon model at his disposal, clearly fancies his chances of a second title. That's despite 21-year-old Vauxhall driver Chilton claiming earlier this week that Plato was sweating after new SEAT team-mate James Thompson out-paced him in pre-season testing at Brands.

"If those sorts of words came out of a champion's mouth, someone who's been round the block, who knows what it's all about, then I'd listen to them," said Plato. "Tom's so jumped up.

"He's obviously come out of the gym like young men do and just gobbed off. There's a long way to go in this championship and Chilton is getting a bit cocky. I'm happy with where I am in my career and he's probably just having a bit of fun.

"But I just sincerely hope for Tom's well being that he can deliver what he trumpets. Results will speak for themselves."

Plato's chief role is to lead SEAT to a first-ever Manufacturers' title, a crown that his former team Vauxhall has held since 2001. He is also fiercely determined to lift a second Drivers' title.

"I'm sure SEAT will admit it - this is our first proper attempt to win the title," he added. "It's our third season in the BTCC, we're very focused and we've got a great car to do the job. That's not PR smoke up your backside, the Leon is a very well designed and thought out car and winning the Manufacturers' crown has really got SEAT turned on, but we must be reliable and have consistency.

"Of course winning the Drivers' title is at the forefront of my mind. I want to win more than anyone else, but we must do the job we've got to do first and that's get the Manufacturers' title secured."

Plato believes that whoever wins 2006's BTCC will thoroughly deserve it: there are genuinely 12 potential race-winners on the grid, with reigning Champion Matt Neal, the Vauxhall Astras Sport Hatches of Chilton and Italian superstar Fabrizio Giovanardi plus Team RAC MG ZSs drivers Rob Collard and Colin Turkington among his major rivals.

"It's going to be one of the most competitive years, which is a pain in the arse! But the harder it is to win the more satisfaction you get," concluded Plato. "I think in my favour now is that I'm perhaps not so gung-ho as I once was. Testing is very restricted in the BTCC so experience counts a lot. I can help stop the team going down blind alleys with the car's set-up. But I also feel that I'm fast as I ever was. I'm not as fast as Tom Chilton, though, clearly..."