Seat Sport UK: Plato does it again for SEAT at Oulton
After a weekend of mixed fortunes, SEAT Sport UK came away from its fourth Green Flag British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) race meeting at Oulton Park today with another top three finish.
Jason Plato’s 2nd place on Round 11 gives the team its sixth podium place in 12 races and maintains its record of a podium finish on every race meeting it has competed in.
As the team did with Plato’s Toledo Cupra at Brands Hatch, the SEAT Sport UK engineers worked miracles to this time repair Robert Huff’s car after he suffered an accident during free practice on Friday (21 May). Rob repaid the team’s work by qualifying in 10th position, having only taken part in the final eight minutes of the session.
Oulton Park - BTCC Rounds 10,11,12.
SEAT Sport UK race summary
Jason Plato: Qualified 14th. Finished 8th.
Rob Huff: Qualified 10th. Finished 7th.
Following a frustrating qualifying session, Jason started the opening race of the day in 14th position with the aim of getting as close to 10th place as possible to ensure a good starting position for the next race. This he achieved by finishing in 8th , placing him on the second row of the grid for Round 11.
Rob had a great start from 10th position to climb to 7th by the end of the first lap. Passing Anthony Reid for 6th he then had a coming together with Luke Hines who was trying to overtake him at the Knickerbrook chicane. Rob spun but managed to keep going to cross the finish line in 7th place.
Jason said: “It’s kind of mission accomplished really, because we wanted to get as close to tenth as we could and eighth it was. The problem is when you start further back on the grid you’ve just got to be so careful for the first two laps and I was a bit over-cautious because I didn’t want to get caught up in any accidents. I had a good start but lost some time when one of the Vauxhalls spun at Cascades corner as I had to stand on the brakes. It was a case of just biding your time and letting the race come to you.”
Rob said: “Exciting one that! I had an OK start and took the outside line around the first corner and then a few drivers got sideways at Cascades and I took three places to move up to seventh. I then had a good fight with Anthony Reid and I managed to out accelerate him out of the hairpin to move into sixth. On lap eleven Luke Hines decided he was going to have a go at the back of my car at Knickerbrook corner, which was a completely unrealistic move and could have potentially put us both out. It didn’t work though, as he managed to take himself out of the race and leave me in it! From then on the car didn’t feel great as the rear tracking was out which meant it didn’t handle very well around left hand corners. I managed to get the car to the finish and take seventh place which was the main thing and secure a second row grid slot for the next race –right alongside Jason, which should be interesting!”
Jason Plato: Qualified 3rd . Finished 2nd .
Rob Huff: Qualified 4th . DNF.
Starting alongside each other on the grid in 3rd and 4th , Jason and Rob had a clear getaway but were both overtaken by a charging Rob Collard who had a flying start from 6th position. Outpacing Collard, the SEAT duo were quickly on his bumper and looking for a way past. On lap five Jason had a good run at Collard going into Lodge Corner and managed to get up alongside and pass him going down the start/finish straight. Rob stayed right in tow and Jason moved to the right leaving enough room for Rob to follow suit going into Old Hall corner. Rob managed to get ahead of Collard but on the exit of the corner the pair collided putting them both out of the race.
Jason said: “That was a cracking race for us. I just had to be careful at the start as there was a lot of robbing and racing going on between myself, Rob and Collard and it all got a little bit feisty down into Knickerbrook corner, but we all managed to get round. Then Collard lost a little bit of pace, I don’t know why, perhaps he’d hurt his tyres but I found that I was able to keep up with him easily. I had a look at overtaking him into Lodge corner and it paid off. I got along side him and fair play he gave me enough room and we didn’t touch, but it was bit of a drag race down the start/finish straight and obviously Rob then went off trying to follow me through. After the safety car went in I had a good restart and I could see second was in the bag if I could get past Anthony Reid. I threw caution to the wind and overtook him on the outside and it paid off for a great result.
“I can’t really comment on Rob’s accident with Collard as I didn’t see that much of it, but I would have done exactly the same thing in his position and tried to follow my team-mate through - in fact I deliberately kept right in order to let him do so.”
Rob said: “I had a flying start and Jason and I were working really well together. Robert Collard was really holding both of us up and Jason had a run at him down the back straight and managed to get up the inside of him at Old Hall corner and I followed him through. I was ahead of Collard coming out of the corner and my wheels were facing straight and he just carried on turning right into the back of my car which pushed us both off to the left and into the barriers. At the end of the day he’s ruined a good result for me. It should have easily been second and third finishes for the team and we should have both been on the podium.”
Jason Plato: Qualified 2nd . DNF.
Rob Huff: Qualified 19th . DNF.
Jason had a flying start from 2nd on the grid to overtake pole-sitter Dan Eaves for the lead on the first lap. Despite maintaining position for the first three laps, he pushed too hard and made a mistake coming out of Druids corner damaging the front splitter which resulted in a loss of radiator ducting causing the engine to run too hot. The team decided pull him in to the pits to save damaging the engine.
With his car fully repaired following his collision with Robert Collard in Round 11, Rob started the final race of the day from the back row of the grid. A good start saw him up to 12th position by the end of the first lap, which he maintained until a collision with Kelvin Burt on lap three forced him into retirement with a broken shock absorber.
Jason said: “I got a great start and all the oil that Anthony Reid put down on the track before the start of the race kind of helped me a bit as I could put my car in the most advantageous place and know that in the first two or three laps no one would come past - and that’s what happened. It’s just hard when you’re carrying success ballast because you’re just miles off the pace and it’s only a matter of time before you’re passed. I did the best I could and in the end I made a mistake through pushing so hard trying to get out of Druids. I wanted to be really fast out of there so as not to give Yvan Muller and Matt Neal an opportunity and I just made a little mistake and jumped off the kerb on to the grass and took the front end off the car. We decided to pull the car in to preserve the engine.”
Rob said: “I had a good start and then everyone was queued up at the hairpin on the first lap and I managed to go around the outside of about five people and move into twelfth position. Then I was following Michael Bentwood and he got on the brakes a bit early so I braked at the same time going into the hairpin and Kelvin Burt came from nowhere and charged up the inside and smacked into the right side of my car which broke the shock absorber and that was it.”