Marking its place in the history books, SEAT Sport UK secured not one but two one-two race finishes in the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft today. Jason Plato won both Rounds 17 and 18, with team-mate Robert Huff equally his Touring Car career best with two 2nd places.
A perfectly executed race weekend strategy was to thank for SEAT Sport UK’s most successful weekend so far this season as the team decided once again to use the first race to gather crucial circuit data – as the Toledo Cupra had never been driven around the North Yorkshire circuit before - and go for position in the final two. It worked like a dream, enabling Jason to move up to 4th position in the BTCC Drivers’ standings, only nine points behind 3rd placed Anthony Reid.
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager, comments: “Once again we’ve proved that you don’t need to have the fastest cars on the grid to win races. We’ve had a solid race strategy over the whole weekend and it’s worked really well for us. After these fantastic results I believe we not only have the two best drivers in the British Touring Car Championship but also the best team - it’s a real credit to everyone involved.”
Croft - BTCC Rounds 16, 17, 18. SEAT Sport UK race summary
Jason Plato: Qualified 9th. Finished 9th.
Rob Huff: Qualified 5th. Finished 5th.
Running the SEAT Toldeo Cupra for the first time on the Croft circuit, SEAT Sport UK used its now familiar strategy of gathering data during the first race whilst setting itself up in a potential race winning position for the second. Jason had a great start off the line, gaining two positions by the end of the first lap before tactically dropping back to 9th to guarantee 2nd place on the grid for Round 17. Team-mate Rob was hoping to follow suit but found good pace towards the end of the race so decided to fight for position. Despite managing to close right up behind James Thompson in 4th he couldn’t get past so settled for 5th place and a 6th position grid slot for the next race.
Jason said: “For some reason I’m struggling a bit with straight line speed compared to Rob as he’s pulling about two and a bit car lengths out of me down the straight and that’s where I kept losing time during the race. We saw it in the data but we assumed that it was because we’d had few niggling problems with our set-up during qualifying, but we’ve learnt a bit more about the car now and we’ll go through the data and see how we can improve things for the next race. I’m happy to be at the sharp end of the grid for race two and hopefully we can hold position and secure a good result.”
Rob said: “The car felt good and I had a really interesting first corner. I stayed on the inside and Tom Chilton tried to move across - I don’t know if he out braked himself and had no where to go but we had contact and he nearly took me off but came off a lot worse in the process. Towards the end of the race I was planning to drop back to gain a better grid position for the second race, but Matt Neal was off at the end of the straight and I thought James Thompson and I could get past him. I was also gaining quite a lot on Thompson on the last four laps and hoping for a lunge up the inside into the last corner but it didn’t quite come off. In general I had a fairly solid race and the car felt really good, we had made a few modifications since qualifying and now we’ll tweak the car again slightly and hopefully make even better and see if we can secure a good result in the next race – we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
Jason Plato: Qualified 2nd. Finished 1st .
Rob Huff: Qualified 6th. Finished 2nd.
SEAT Sport UK justly got the result it had been waiting for in Round 17 by recording its first one-two in the world for the SEAT Toledo Cupra. Starting from 2nd and 6th on the grid, a fantastic start by both Jason and Rob saw the SEAT drivers move into 1st and 3rd by the end of the first lap. Rob then pulled an impressive move around the outside of Dan Eaves at Tower Bend on lap two for 2nd position. Gradually pulling away from the field to form a comfortable cushion, the SEAT boys then ran a one-two convoy for the rest of the 15 lap race to reserve a place in the history books.
Jason said: “Absolutely fantastic one-two result for the team, we deserved it at Mondello and we had it stripped away and now the first race up the road and we’ve done it. The lads have worked tremendously hard this year as has everyone at SEAT and everyone involved with team and it’s a nice reward for them. It If I put my hands up, Rob was a wee bit quicker than me to start with for the first few laps and then my car came to me a little bit and I managed to find an extra tenth on him towards the end of the race which shows how close it was. I knew with about six laps to go that we were safe, all we then had to do was be consistent and not make any mistakes. I knew that Rob had a bit of a gap to Dan Eaves so he could relax a little and I had a bit of a gap to Rob so I could do the same. In that situation a few laps from the end these thoughts of winning start to creep into your head and you’ve just got to try and shut them out because that’s when you’ll make a mistake, so I just kept my head down and got the job done. It’s a mega result for the team and I’m having a bloody great time – rock ‘n’ roll!”
Rob said: “I had an absolutely belting start and went right round the outside of two drivers to come out of the first corner third. Then two laps in I went round the outside of Dan Eaves at Tower and from then on started to reel Jason in and put him under a bit of pressure. I didn’t want to do anything too serious to try and get past him as I wanted us to try and build a gap to Dan Eaves as I knew I had the pace. It’s a mega result for SEAT and the whole SEAT Sport UK team - how often do all your team Christmases come at once!”
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager, said: “It looks like SEAT’s first ever one-two will make the history books. From what I saw Jason got a fantastic start and Rob just drove a blinder of a race to finish second. It’s a top result for the team!”
Jason Plato: Qualified 1st. Finished 1st.
Rob Huff: Qualified 2nd. Finished 2nd.
Occupying the front row of the grid, Jason and Rob both had lightning starts off the line in Round 18 before adopting a pre-determined team strategy. To protect their one-two formation out of the first corner, Jason eased off to let Rob take the lead of the race before slotting in behind him. Then as agreed they then both pushed hard to form a comfortable cushion to the rest of the field before Rob repaid the favour to Jason on lap five by letting him back through. Fending off a charging James Thompson in 3rd position the duo held position for the rest of the 15 lap race to take their second one-two of the weekend!
Jason said: “What a fantastic day for SEAT UK, two one-twos – it could not be better! It’s been a great team effort and well, what can you say, it’s been bloody marvellous! We did have these potential emotions at Mondello and it didn’t come off - when Rob had his second place taken away - so it’s great to have a really successful day. It just goes to show we’d really thought about our strategy and I think it was the right one which certainly worked well for us. For the final race Rob and I had a deal depending on how good a start we both got, to try and keep our one-two positions. If I had a good start I would take the first corner but if Rob was unable to keep second due to someone coming up behind me I would let him go ahead of me. The deal was that if I did let him past then he would later repay the favour once the race took shape and that’s exactly what happened. Had I taken the first corner, which I could of done because it was my corner, he would have been compromised and dropped back to fourth. That would have then left my doors open for someone to have a go at me and the first few laps with weight on are very hard. In short it was a very very smart team decision and rounds up a brilliant weekend for SEAT, the team and everybody involved!”
Rob said: “Jason and I had a word with each other before the race and said that if I got a good start - which we both did - and he had someone directly behind him and I couldn’t slot in behind, he’d brake a little bit early and let me swing around the outside. So that’s exactly what happened and obviously without Jason doing that I wouldn’t have got the lead I did. I’m one of these guys who believes ‘what goes around comes around’ and as he kept to his word and let me through and the team are fighting for third in the Championship with Jason, I was quite happy to let him back passed. At the end of the day it’s a team effort and I’m not going to go out there fighting my own cause. I did have a lot of pace today, certainly in that last race and I think I was pretty much the quickest out there aside from Colin Turkington. To have two second places in one day on nothing but my own pace is quite something. I have to say a huge thank you to SEAT for giving me this opportunity and also to everybody in the team for all their hard work – it’s been a mega weekend!”