Tuesday 11 June 2013

BTCC 2013 : The season hots up at Oulton Park

Plato's car catches fire in race three

A packed grid took to the Oulton Park circuit in perfect conditions

MG KX Momentum racer Jason Plato scored a flawless double BTCC victory at Oulton Park today (9 June) before a dramatic fire put him out of the final contest, handing his Honda Yuasa Racing rival Matt Neal the championship lead.

Two-time champion Plato is no stranger to winning at the Cheshire venue, having taken seven victories at the circuit prior to this weekend, and he duly added to his impressive tally.

He was in dominant form throughout the event – claiming pole position before securing two lights-to-flag wins in commanding fashion. But for the agony of race three, the Oxfordshire driver was still pleased with his weekend’s work, “I’ve been on fire – literally,” he said in reference to both his fine form and later misfortune!

Plato’s young team-mate Sam Tordoff starred in race one by claiming second – the best result in his short BTCC career so far and the first ever one-two for MG KX Momentum Racing.
Reigning champion Gordon Shedden took third in the opener before going one better in race two in his Honda Civic, whilst 2009 champion Colin Turkington claimed third in his eBay Motors BMW 125i M Sport.

The chaotic final encounter was won by Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic after his team-mate Jeff Smith spun away the lead with just three laps remaining. Turkington scored another podium, rounding out an extremely encouraging weekend for the eBay Motors driver.

The impressive Adam Morgan took his first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium in the final race, which was just reward for the Ciceley Racing driver and continues his fantastic form so far in 2013.

Matt Neal finished just 0.078s off the rostrum after hounding down Morgan in the closing stages but his race results of sixth and two fourth places were enough for him to leave Oulton Park with the championship lead. Such is the competitiveness of the 2013 BTCC season that Neal, Jordan and Plato are separated by just seven points at the top of the standings.

Other notable results belonged to the Rob Austin Racing-run Audis of Rob Austin and Will Bratt – the duo finished fifth and sixth respectively in race three.

Lea Wood and Liam Griffin shared Jack Sears Trophy honours
Lea Wood looked set to claim a first ever treble in the Jack Sears Trophy but after taking two wins he was forced into retirement in the final contest, which handed Liam Griffin’s Ford Focus his fourth win of the season. Wood heads the S2000 order with five victories.

Further to Neal’s lead in the overall Drivers’ standings, Honda lead the Manufacturers’ Championship and Honda Yuasa Racing also top the Teams’ Championship. Andrew Jordan and his Pirtek Racing squad hold the advantage in the Independents’ Drivers’ and Teams’ standings respectively.

Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship take place at Croft on the 22/23 June.

Jason Plato said: “I’ve been on fire – literally! It has been a fantastic weekend. What happened in the final race was just one of those things. The most important thing for me is that we’ve got the performance and we’ve sent a shockwave down the pit lane. There’s a long way to go but we’ve put on a pretty dominant display here, which bodes well for Croft and beyond.”

Andrew Jordan said: “If you’d asked me how my day was going after race two I’d have been a lot less happy than I am now. To pull that result off has made my weekend – you can never be sure what’s going to happen in race three and it was only once I got up into fourth that I thought I could actually win it. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get a one-two for the team – there were no team orders, Jeff (Smith) just lost the rear going into the chicane and didn’t quite manage to save it. Consistency is key for me this year and while I didn’t get great results in the first two races, we scored big in the last one while Shedden and Plato didn’t finish, so that makes it an even better result.”

Colin Turkington said: “That’s the first podium (race two) that we’ve had on raw pace. We didn’t have any luck or a reverse grid to be there so we’re definitely moving forward, but we have to keep our feet on the ground. We’ve still got more performance to find in the car and it’s not there yet. I didn’t expect two podiums, especially with the speed of the Hondas and the MGs, so to take those results when they're in the kind of form they are is absolutely fantastic.”

Adam Morgan said: “It’s absolutely amazing to get that result, not just for myself but for my team, my family and all the sponsors that support me. The race was pretty hectic – I didn’t get a second to catch my breath, but I just kept pushing and to get my first BTCC podium at my home circuit – it’s brilliant. The car felt really really good, and now I've got one, I'll be pushing harder than ever to get up there again.”

Liam Griffin received a one second time penalty in race one for gaining an unfair advantage

Andrew Jordan received three penalty points and a £500 fine for an incident relating to driving standards in race three

Jeff Smith received three penalty points and a £500 fine for an incident relating to driving standards in race three

Photos courtesy of btcc.net

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