Jason Plato won two rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone today (Sunday) but he couldn’t prevent Colin Turkington inching closer to his second title with three strong finishes.
Double BTCC title winner Plato headed to the Northants circuit in the knowledge that he needed a substantial points haul to keep his title hopes alive.
Championship leader Turkington used his rear-wheel-drive traction to power into the lead on the run into Copse on the opening lap.
However, the front-wheel-drive cars get their front rubber up to racing temperature more quickly than the rear-drive variants, and Plato was able to slither through under braking for the left-hander at Brooklands.
That was the end of the battle at the front, because although Turkington didn’t fall away from Plato, he couldn’t force the BTCC’s wiliest campaigner into a mistake and the MG6 driver passed the chequered flag 1.4sec ahead of his challenger.
Mat Jackson claimed third place in his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus, and came close to overhauling Turkington on the final tour too. Fourth place fell to the second MG6 of Sam Tordoff, with the Chrome Edition Restart Racing Volkswagen CCs of Alain Menu and Aron Smith rounded out the top six.
Race two followed a similar pattern. With race one result determining the grid line-up, Plato was on pole position with Turkington alongside him once again.
Turkington made another scorching getaway and led the early stages until Plato slipped through a narrow gap at Brooklands once again to seize a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Plato’s MG was on the harder of the Dunlop tyre compounds for this race, and was also carrying around a full 46kg of success ballast, but he managed to resist his title rival’s persistent attacks.
Turkington’s BMW was fitted with the softer rubber – which all drivers must use once during the race meeting – and he began to fall away from Plato in the closing stages.
Third place fell to Menu, who overhauled a fading Jackson in the second half of the race, attacking the Focus through Copse and completing the move at Becketts. Jackson just fended off Menu’s team-mate Smith for fifth.
The race was called to a halt one lap early after a monumental accident involving Turkington’s team-mate Rob Collard, who clipped the out-of-shape Ford Focus of Jack Clarke and was pitched into a barrel roll at 90mph. Collard was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after the incident.
Former champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was drawn on pole position for the random reversed-grid race three, but the start was delayed when Sam Tordoff’s MG was pushed away from its front-row grid slot after it sprang an oil leak.
Giovanardi led away, but before the end of the opening lap his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus team-mate Mat Jackson slipped ahead.
After a short safety car period to clear the debris from a first-lap incident, Jackson made good his escape at the front, while Smith worked his way past Giovanardi and set off in pursuit.
The Italian had a queue of cars including Turkington, Menu and Plato – the latter now on the soft tyres – on his tail, but managed to keep them at bay for lap after lap. Turkington – with one eye undoubtedly on the championship positions – looked wary of committing to an overtaking attempt lest he get compromised at lose place and points to his pursuers.