SEAT Sport UK driver Jason Plato has recorded more race wins in the 2004 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship than any other driver, having taken victory for the fifth time in the Toledo Cupra at Knockhill today. Team- mate Rob Huff was also on superb form, coming from last on the grid to finish 6th in the second race of the day, played out in front of a huge Scottish crowd.
Knockhill - BTCC Rounds 19, 20, 21. SEAT Sport UK race summary
Jason Plato: Qualified 10th. Finished 10th.
Rob Huff: Qualified 5th. Finished DNF.
Jason had a great start to move up to 8th by the end of the first lap. Dropping back to gain a front grid position for race two, a fantastic battle developed in the closing stages of the race between Jason and Jason Hughes for the coveted 10th position. A tense final few laps saw the pair swap positions twice before crossing the finish line side by side. Finding more pace than Hughes, Jason managed to keep the momentum and hold on to 10th to secure pole for Round 20. Team-mate Rob Huff was also quick off the line from 5th and was looking like he had the pace for a possible podium finish before a collision with James Thompson on lap three saw him run wide and on to the grass on the exit of Clark corner. During the incident Rob’s front splitter broke and the radiator was damaged, forcing him into retirement.
Jason said: “I wasn’t really that worried about losing tenth as I had lots of pace in reserve, but you can never really underestimate anybody. You had to think on your feet out there; there was a lot going on for me with Matt Neal, Rob Collard and then Jason Hughes came into play. I actually thought about sitting in eleventh for a while because I was a lot quicker than Jason Hughes and I always knew I could lunge him somewhere, but then I decided that I was probably asking for trouble if I stayed where I was so I went for tenth. It was all a bit close and a bit tight but it was good fun. The main thing is we’ve lost the weight now and we’re on pole. It’s very difficult to overtake around Knockhill so we’re in great shape for the next one and hopefully we’ll have the pace to get a podium.”
Rob said: “I just went around the outside of James Thompson into Clark corner and right on the exit he just pushed me wide on to the grass and it damaged the front splitter, bent the radiator back and pulled the hose off and the car over heated so I pulled in the pits to preserve the engine. It’s a shame because the car was really very quick and I think I could have definitely got up to as high as second if I’d continued.”
Jason Plato: Qualified 1st. Finished 1st.
Rob Huff: Qualified18th. Finished 6th.
From pole position on the grid Jason took a comfortable lead in Round 20, which he maintained throughout the entire race. Even when the safety car was deployed on lap 17 taking away his advantage he still managed to find enough pace in the final stages to hold off a charging Matt Neal to take victory. Taking his fifth win of the season, Jason becomes the driver with the most BTCC wins this year - a tremendous achievement for SEAT Sport UK’s in its first year in the series.
Starting from the back of the grid in 18th , after his retirement from race one, Rob drove an absolutely stunning race. He was up to 12th by the end of the first lap and cutting through the field like a man on a mission. Running as high as 4th he enjoyed some close battles with Anthony Reid and Luke Hines before crossing the line in an impressive 6th position.
Jason said: “That was a perfect text book race really - bar the interference of the safety car - I don’t know what all that was about! The car felt fantastic and I managed to maintain a comfortable lead. When the safety car came out, the first lap behind it was so slow and I must have picked up some rubbish on my tyres because on the re-start I wasn’t as quick as I had been and seemed to lose the balance of my car a little bit, but it didn’t cause too much of a problem. Overall it’s been another great race for SEAT and another brilliant result for the whole team.”
Rob said: “That was a mega race. I had a fantastic start and got passed two or three drivers off the line and then a couple more on the first lap. From then on I just started making my way passed them one by one. I had a great race with Anthony Reid and we swapped positions a couple of times and also with Luke Hines - it was just good clean racing. I wanted to get a decent result and secure a good grid slot for the final race. I had a coming together with Yvan Muller at Clark corner - he went wide but managed to re-take me and kindly helped Luke Hines pass me as well, which was nice of him! All in all it was a great race, the car just felt really fantastic and I was just on it right the way through. I even got as high as fourth at one point, which isn’t a bad effort considering I started from the back of the grid. Anyone who says you can’t overtake at Knockhill, well I think I’ve proved them wrong this afternoon!”
Jason Plato: Qualified 1st . Finished 7th .
Rob Huff: Qualified 6th . Finished 5th .
Once again Jason started from pole position, although this time carrying maximum success ballast. After another good start he held a comfortable lead for the first 11 laps before his clutch performance started to drop off. To counteract this he tried to brake early and gain a better exit out of the corners, but with a heavy car he was caught by the rest of the field. Despite some great battles with both Yvan Muller and James Thompson, Jason’s clutch problem proved too much and in the final stages he dropped back to 7th .
Starting from 6th , Rob found himself in the thick of all the action. Swapping positions with the likes of Anthony Reid, Colin Turkington and Yvan Muller, he provided some thrilling racing action before crossing the line in a well deserved 5th position.
Jason said: “I had a great start and during the first few laps I was braking on the absolute limit and managed to build a good lead before the weight started to take its toll. Mid-way through the race I started to lose my clutch and I made a couple of mistakes with locking up my front brakes and when Dan Eaves caught up with me I was mincemeat. I couldn’t brake late because of my clutch and then by braking early I had to try and get a better exit which hurt my front tyres. The weight just proved too much for us in that race but I’m not disappointed - it’s been another fantastic weekend for the team, we’ve taken another victory and we’re learning and gathering data the whole time. Now we’ll roll up at Brands, where we know we’re quick as Rob proved on our last visit there, with hardly any weight on and hopefully get right up the sharp end of the grid and dish out some more great results.”
Rob said: “I didn’t get the best start in the world but I had a better start than Luke Hines and was passed him into the first corner. On the first few laps the Vauxhalls were holding up the rest of the field quite a bit, so as Jason was pulling away I was getting held up trying to overtake. It was a really hard race and I had a few close battles and grassy moments thanks to other drivers as I was right in the thick of it. It was a really tough race and I had to work really hard. Overall we’ve had another good weekend here and taken another victory and now we can look forward to Brands Hatch.”