Jason Plato believes his Power Maxed Racing outfit are ready to make the next step following an encouraging British Touring Car Championship campaign, but says the Vauxhall squad must develop its own engine to fight for wins on a more regular basis for the 2020 season.

The two-time champion capped off his first season with PMR in superb fashion after taking a dominant 97th BTCC victory during the final race of the year at the Brands Hatch title decider.

Plato started the finale from fifth and quickly romped into a healthy lead but later took the car 'off the boil' midway through the race before crossing the line 0.9s ahead of Rory Butcher.

The 52-year old's first BTCC win in over two years consolidated a final championship reckoning of seventh position for the series legend.

"I’m dead pleased. We’ve been threatening all year. We should’ve won another two or three races this year, had I not made parking errors or the balls rolled slightly differently," said Plato.

"I had so much pace and I had the car exactly where I wanted it. I could’ve started tenth and won that race.

"My car was mega. I reckon eight laps from home I started to get a little vibration on the right front so I thought ‘I’ll take it off the boil’. I had another 0.5s a lap in hand."

Plato says his team have made good progress with Vauxhall Astra's chassis during the second half of the year, but maintains running the TOCA engine has cost them dearly in straight-line speed against the factory Hondas and BMWs.

"The main thing is the second half of the year we’ve been chipping away at the car. My car was dynamite in that last race," the Vauxhall racer continued.

"We’ve got the chassis working. We’re still s**t in a straight-line so we need to get some more investment over the winter and develop our own engine because the TOCA unit just isn’t good enough.

“The team is ready. We can sharpen it all up. If we can get a bit more brass at the door we can come out punching and kicking next year and try and win again.

"It’s clear we have to make our own engine. If we want to do what the others are doing we have to do it. The TOCA unit is just not good enough I’m afraid.

"If you watch the BMW or Honda, when they get behind another car that’s got tyre problems, they’re straight past.

"We need to be able to do that and you can only do that if you’ve got an engine."

Although Power Maxed Racing are competing in the BTCC as a manufacturer team, Plato says the outfit will be working on becoming more ‘closely aligned’ with Vauxhall as they seek to fight for further wins.

"We want to work on dragging some more sponsors, getting some more investment and trying to engage a bit more with Vauxhall and get them a bit more aligned," said Plato.

"The early signs are great and we’ve shown what we can do. All exciting for the winter.

"Part of my strategy wherever I go is to try and bring a team and lift it up. The basics are right here. The people are really good. Everyone’s pulling in the right direction and we need to step the game up a bit.

"We need to ideally produce a new chassis for next year. The Astra has had a facelift so there’s potential to use that.

"We want to work closely with a manufacturer and whilst we are working close, we want to work closer."

 

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