SEAT Sport UK aims to continue its run of form at Oulton Park this weekend, when the Cheshire circuit plays host to Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Any assault on another podium finish may have to wait until the success ballast is re-calculated during the race weekend, however, as Jason Plato’s and Rob Huff’s Super 2000 spec Toledo Cupras will carry extra weight in free practice, qualifying and Round 10, courtesy of their success in Round 9 at Silverstone.
The rollercoaster twists and undulations of Oulton Park’s Island Circuit should nevertheless suit the SEAT Toledo Cupra – as the SEAT Sport UK team looks to continue its 100% points-scoring record in its debut BTCC season.
Jason said: “I love racing at Oulton Park because it’s got some great corners and there are plenty of overtaking opportunities. We’ll have to start the weekend with success ballast, which will slow us in free practice, qualifying and in the first race, so it will be interesting to see how we go from then on. The racing’s always spectacular at Oulton, and I think this weekend’s three BTCC races are going to be very exciting.”
Huff said: “I’ve always gone well at Oulton Park, particularly in saloon cars. I scored my first Clio podium there in 2002 and last year I set pole, a fastest lap and finished first and second in the two SEAT Cupra Championship races at Oulton. It was a big leap towards me winning the title, so I’m looking forward to returning in the BTCC. I’m really enjoying my racing this year and I’m not afraid of battling with those big touring car boys!”
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager, said: “Oulton Park is another circuit that we have no historical data from but we hope to learn quickly over the weekend and get the set-up right for qualifying. Both Jason and Rob have proved that under the right circumstances the Toledo can be competitive and the results achieved in the ETCC at Hockenheim last weekend are very encouraging.”
The BTCC race weekend at Oulton Park begins with two 40 minute free practice sessions on Saturday 22nd May, starting at 09.35 and 12.10, followed by a 30 minute qualifying session starting at 15.00. Three 15 lap races around the Oulton Park Island Circuit will take place on Sunday 23rd May, beginning at 12.15, 14.45 and 17.15.
It happened to us at Oulton Park
Jason Plato had his first big racing accident at Oulton Park in 1990, when he rolled a Formula Renault end-over-end at the ultra-fast Island Corner.
In last year’s Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship double header race meeting at Oulton Park, Rob Huff turned a one point series lead into a 17 point advantage after scoring a race win (and fastest lap) and qualifying on pole and finishing 2nd in the two SEAT races. It was a decisive weekend in Rob’s Championship winning season.
In his commentary of the 1997 BTCC race, Murray Walker renamed Lodge Corner ‘Plato’s Bend’ after Jason overtook almost every car there during the race. Jason had been caught behind a start line accident, and from last place he eventually finished 5th – overtaking two or more cars at Lodge Corner on each lap.
Rob Huff will have a busy week in the build up to Oulton Park – covering in excess of 1000 miles as he criss-crosses the country on SEAT duty. In the early part of the week he’ll be on Teesside filming an internal promotional video for SEAT UK, mid-week Rob will be in the Northampton shaking down the Toledo Cupras and then he’ll be off to Oulton Park for the race weekend.
The fast downhill approach to Knickerbrook was where James Thompson squeezed Jason Plato onto the grass verge at 130mph during the 1999 BTCC race.