Monday 16 April 2012

Mixed fortunes for MG at Donington Park

Platos MG hits the tyrewall as Collard's BMW spins, Ruining both driver's race

The Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire was the venue for the second race weekend of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The MG KX Momentum Racing Team continued their strong start to the season, as Jason Plato once again took the new MG6 to a podium finish.

The MG KX Momentum Racing team book-ended the grid for Race One following Jason Plato’s maiden pole position for the team yesterday, in a qualifying session that saw Andy Neate suffer technical issues. Rob Collard’s BMW lead the race into the first corner from 6th on the grid, dropping Jason to P2. He quickly caught the BMW though and moved to take the lead on lap 5, but as Mat Jackson tried to follow him through, the Ford driver out-braked himself and ran into the back of Jason’s MG6, forcing him across the grass and down to 4th where he would finish.

Andy Neate had an eventful race, after a great start gaining five places he was again low on luck getting into several minor scrapes with other drivers which hampered his progress through the field. He continued to battle though and came home 16th.

Race Two was one to be put down to experience for the fledgling MG KX Momentum Racing team. After a strong start for double BTCC champion Plato, as the leading cars came to complete the first lap, contact between Jason and the BMW of Collard resulting in both cars spinning, with Jason also contacting with the wall. A lengthy pit-stop to repair some damage to the car ended any hope of a points paying position and so the quick thinking Triple Eight team used the rest of the race as a test session, with Jason making a total of 4 pit-stops to try different settings.

Andy again looked to battle through the field from his P16 starting spot and after enduring some tough battles with the mid-field runners, his efforts were rewarded though as he brought home four valuable championship points courtesy of his 12th place finish.

Plato's MG leads Shedden's Honda after a trip through the Gravel.
The positions were later reversed after a steward's enquiry
The reverse grid for race 3 always ensures plenty of action and today’s race was especially eventful! Unfortunately Andy picked up some suspension damage in the melee of the first lap and despite the team’s best efforts to repair it, was forced to retire. Jason started the race from 17th on the grid after his Race Two adventures, but after the frantic opening laps, he had hauled himself into 9th as the Safety Car was deployed on Lap 5. At the restart Jason began to pick his way through the field one by one to incredibly move into a podium position by Lap 15, he then had a titanic battle with Shedden’s Honda that went all the way to the final corner with some contact that saw both cars skate through the gravel and although Jason finished ahead on the road the officials later reversed the positions after an appeal, which still ensured a podium finish for the team.

Jason Plato, MG KX Momentum Racing #99:

It always seems to be a roller-coaster ride of a day for me here at Donington and we’ve had that sort of day again today. Yesterday’s Pole Position was fantastic, but today’s been up and down with the results, but overall a 4th and a 3rd from the back in Race Three is solid. We will of course look to come back stronger again for Thruxton in two weeks.”

Andy Neate, MG KX Momentum Racing #44:

I feel empty handed to be honest, especially after the disappointment of qualifying. The car felt better and better as the day went on and I really think we could have come away with something- I was up to sixth after the first couple of laps in Race Three but, I was somehow spun on the start finish straight, which frustratingly ended my weekend. I’m able to go to Thruxton in the knowledge that the car has some real speed and the potential is there.”

Ian Harrison, MG KX Momentum Racing Team Principal:

“It’s been a mixed weekend overall, Jason has again got the best out of the car, but we’ve got into a few situations that meant we haven’t collected the points we perhaps could have. Andy’s been on the back foot since qualifying, through no fault of his own. After solid drives in Race One & Two we’ve had to disappointingly retire his car with significant damage after some poor driving standards in Race Three. Really there’s been too much damage up and down the Paddock today, it needs looking at.

Looking ahead to Thruxton though, we should be competitive there and will be working to improve the car to ensure we’re as strong as possible.” 

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