Jason Plato will celebrate his 150th British Touring Car Championship race when he starts the third race at Brands Hatch on Sunday 22nd August. The milestone comes as he aims to finish third in the Green Flag-backed series, in his SEAT Toledo Cupra.
Having already raced around the 1.22 mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in April, it will be the first time the new SEAT Sport UK team has returned to a circuit with precise technical race set-up data. It knows what set-up makes the Toledo Cupra competitive around Brands Hatch – thanks to Rob Huff’s superb performance in the spring, which was highlighted with 2nd place in only his fourth BTCC race. Having clinched the BTCC title at Brands in 2001, Jason’s most recent memories of the Kent circuit aren’t so happy, having been forcefully slammed into the barriers at the start of the first race earlier this year. He’ll be therefore relying on Rob’s set-up to get him back on track, which won’t be a disadvantage as the telemetry reveals the driving styles of the SEAT Sport UK team-mates are almost identical.
Jason has scored 19 BTCC race wins in his career, his current tally of five race wins this year is more than that of any other driver and he has also led more racing laps than anyone else this season (Race laps led: Plato 101; Yvan Muller and James Thompson 57; Anthony Reid 54; Matt Neal 31).
Jason said: “Brands is the first track that we’ll return to this year with some specific data, so in theory we should start the weekend on more of a level playing field. Rob went exceptionally well there in April and I had a shocker of a weekend, so I’m going to bolt on the same set-up that Rob ended up running because his car was very quick. We’ve got to try and continue what we’re doing and win some more races. Strategy will play its part, but Anthony Reid proved at Knockhill that you can win race one and race three, so maybe that will make everyone else think about their strategy a bit more too.
“I can’t believe I’ve actually done so many British Touring Car races, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s coming up to my one hundred and fiftieth race. I wish I had the same win ratio as Michael Schumacher! I suppose I am one of the older guys in the BTCC paddock now - it’s strange because I don’t view myself like that, I still see myself as kid aged ten.”
Rob said: “I had a fantastic weekend at Brands last time out, so returning there should be even better. It’s the first circuit we’ve been back to with data, we know the Toledo Cupra is quick around Brands and we’ll start off on more equal terms. I had a couple of cracking races there in April, and now I’m more confident with the car and in myself. To finish second in my fourth British Touring Car race was a huge achievement, and it set the scene for how the rest of the season has turned out. I aim to qualify on pole and go one better in the race and get my first Touring Car win. That’s the plan, and fingers crossed it will happen.”
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK National Motorsport Manager, said: “We’re all looking forward to going back to Brands, especially as we can help the ‘old boy’ celebrate as he reaches another milestone in his long, long career! We had mixed fortunes on our last visit there earlier this season, but hopefully we’ll get our strategy right again and see Rob and Jason on the podium at some point on Sunday.”
The BTCC race weekend gets underway at Brands Hatch with two 40 minute free practice sessions on Saturday 21st August, starting at 09.35 and 12.15, followed by a 30 minute qualifying session starting at 15.10. Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the BTCC then take place on Sunday 22nd August, with three 24 lap races starting at 10.45, 13.40 and 16.07.