• Oulton Park Stage Rally and Fireworks
  • YoungDrive at Oulton Park
  • MSV Trackdays
Plato benefits from Honda mishap on final corner of BTCC race two

Sunday, June 05 2011

Jason Plato was a surprise winner of the second British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park today, after a botched leadership bid by Matt Neal on his Honda team mate Gordon Shedden. Shedden was peerless for the duration and only a late-race safety car intervention narrowed his lead, putting Neal within striking distance. A nudge at the Island hairpin on the penultimate lap suggested a mistake from the former champion but a late lunge at Lodge, the very last corner of the race, handed victory to a delighted Plato.

Rain started to fall as the cars gridded up and after Shedden's race one win, most of the field elected to bolt a set of slicks on the front and wets on the rear. The West Surrey Racing BMWs differed, with wet tyres all round.

As the lights went out, Plato made a poor getaway but was able to protect his second place as Shedden led the Chevrolet from James Nash, Rob Collard, Nick Foster, Alex MacDowall, Andrew Jordan and Neal. Joining the back of the field from the pitlane, Jeff Smith repaid the efforts of his mechanics by hitting the barriers exiting Old Hall. This brought out the first of two safety car interventions, as Smith's earlier victim Tom Boardman joined the race.

As the safety car circulated, the rain started to fall harder and Andy Neate pitted for wet tyres. However any hopes he had for a good result were scuppered when he failed to catch the field up before the restart. The similarly-shod Collard was also unable to capitalise at this stage and left Nash to work on Plato ahead.

Meanwhile Neal was finding his tyres a revelation after his earlier woes and his ascent up the order was as dramatic as his earlier fall from grace. From eighth on the grid he was soon up to fourth and, catching Nash and Plato at Lodge, he demoted the pair of them by the time he'd reached Old Hall! It was clear that the Honda was the car to beat and as he pulled away from the rest he was unable to make much of an impression on Shedden, supremely comfortable in the lead. Neal was clearly pushing hard as he had a moment at the hairpin that demoted him to fourth, however he was soon past Nash and although Plato gave him some work to do, was back in second by the time he'd made his next visit to Knickerbrook.

With just a handful of laps to go and an easy Honda 1-2 looking increasingly likely, John George headed into the gravel and the safety car was scrambled once more. With more rain coming down and Collard in a threatening sixth place with wet tyres all round, all attention was on the BMW. Sure enough he didn't disappoint and was soon past Jordan and after Nash.

However, one lap into a three-lap dash to the flag, Neal appeared to get his braking wrong into the Island hairpin, the resultant contact sending Shedden sideways as the pair of them gathered themselves together in time to avoid attack from Plato. Whilst it was assumed that was that, a typically-late lunge from Neal into Lodge at the final time of asking did more than shake Shedden's composure. As the team-mates headed towards the gravel, Plato nipped past to take the flag. Shedden resumed to finish sixth but Neal was out.

Collard passed Nash in the confusion to claim second right on the line, whilst Jordan and MacDowall were fourth and fifth. Behind the unfortunate Shedden, Paul O'Neill was seventh from Nick Foster and Mat Jackson, who will start on pole for the final race after his ninth place was drawn. Tom Chilton was the final top ten finisher.

However, there was one final twist - just before race three it was announced that Collard had gained an unfair advantage in his attempts to gain second place. A one-second penalty was enough to demote him to third in the definitive standings.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship - Round 11 Result:

1. Jason Plato, Silverline, Chevrolet, 18 Laps
2. James Nash, 888, Vauxhall, +2.408s
3. Rob Collard, WSR, BMW, +3.31