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Jason Plato: "It's gloves off at Oulton Park"

Wednesday, June 03 2015

Double Dunlop MSA British Touring Car champion and fan favourite Jason Plato is gearing up for a fight at Oulton Park this weekend (6/7 June), as he sets his sights on the title lead.

Despite losing a race win to a puncture at Brands Hatch earlier this season, Jason is just 12 points off the lead of the championship, and has just scored the 90th victory of his record-breaking career.

"Regardless of what's happened already, my tail is normally high in the air," Jason said. "But with the prospect of racing at Oulton Park, it's a little bit higher. I've got a great strike record round there and it's a circuit where I feel I'm really in tune with. Had we not had that puncture at Brands Hatch, we would be leading the championship, so we've got to try and claw them back. It's a really key weekend for me, we need some wins."

Since leaving MG last year, Jason has shown strong pace in the Team BMR VW CC, leading many practice sessions, but so far this has only translated to two wins. He's clear on the reason for this: "The soft tyre; there's no performance there and it doesn't last, you bolt the thing on and you go backwards. It is the same for everyone else, but I don't see the point in having to use a tyre three times in race one, as that's a really key race."

Nevertheless, with every team forced to use the soft tyre in each race at least three times during the season, the finishing order has been tough to predict, and Jason thinks that the fight at the front will extend beyond BMR and Honda this weekend. He reckons this should include his old team, which has shown well at Oulton Park in recent years: "Honda are going to be strong all over the place, but there's no reason why that MG shouldn't come on song, I know how good that car is. Last year it was the quickest front-wheel-drive car in existence, so I can only assume that the people that are driving it are not doing as good a job as we did last year.

"Also, there's no reason why that [WSR] BMW shouldn't be strong at every single race, because that car is where it was last year in terms of performance. I could only assume that the drivers are not driving as well as Colin [Turkington] did, but certainly if Colin was in that car, then I'd be extremely worried."

This year Colin is driving for the same team as Jason, and whilst the reigning champion is behind on victories, he's ahead on points, and has always been strong at Oulton Park. With the possibility of strong opposition in Cheshire, Jason fends off any suggestion of team orders this weekend: "We're out for ourselves. It's very easy for us all to turn round and come up with the homogenised quote that 'we've got to do what's right for the team', that's just PR rubbish. Colin's out for himself, like I am. Of course we're not going to take each other off, but Colin desperately wants to beat me, and I desperately want to beat him, and we all desperately want to beat each other, including Aron Smith, so it's gloves off."

If the predicted fight does break out on track, Jason agrees that the Cheshire circuit is the perfect place for it: "I don't know if we've traditionally had good weather when we've been there, or it's just a passionate local crowd, or a mixture of all, but it's always got a great buzz at Oulton Park. The place always looks great when the sun's shining and it normally does up there. It's one of the best on the calendar."

Tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on 6/7 June are available in advance from £26, with free entry for children under 13. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.