Jason Plato became the first driver to win five races in the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship when he led from pole to win the first of three races at Oulton Park in his SEAT Sport UK Leon TDI. With two fastest laps as well it could have been a big points scoring day, but a misfire whilst leading Race 2 and having to fight his way from 17th on the grid in Race 3 spoilt the celebrations. Despite this, Jason has moved up to 2nd in the BTCC Drivers’ standings, albeit 44 points behind Fabrizio Giovanardi.
It was an equally frustrating day for Darren Turner. Having qualified 2nd, he was pushed sideways by Tom Chilton (Honda Civic) in Race 1 and, with damaged rear suspension, finished 6th. Race 2 saw the front left wishbone break under braking for the Knickerbrook chicane on the opening lap, which forced Darren into retirement, and then an engine problem saw him complete the final race unable to use full throttle as he finished 16th, one lap down. After such a good effort, Darren scored just five points and remains 8th in the BTCC Drivers’ table.
Jason Plato (1st/DNC/9th): “We’ve now got some performance in the Leon TDI, it’s engineered extremely well, the team is doing a great job and we start a race weekend off well – but then these mysterious engine problems intervene and prevent us scoring the points we need. It’s very frustrating. We don’t know what’s causing the misfire, but we have to try and get to the bottom of it. The objective for the rest of the year is to win more races; there is nothing else we can do. We’re making big progress with the car and we’ll be very strong next year, but as far as 2008 is concerned I think it’s over. Whilst the series is still alive we’ll keep on fighting, but I think Vauxhall and Fabrizio [Giovanardi] are too far ahead.”
Darren Turner (6th/DNF/16th): “Qualifying was fantastic, and from the front of the grid it looked like we’d be able to finish first and second in the first two races and take whatever the third race would throw at us, but it all went wrong for me at the start of the first race when I dropped behind Tom Chilton. It took me a few laps to get past him, only for him to lunged at me and take me off. I had to start sixth in the second race and had a suspension failure; that was unfortunate, but these things do happen and it’s the first time anything like that has happened to me. I had to start the third race from twenty-first. I made a good start and quickly got on the back of Jason and it looked like we’d push through the field before Tom Chilton did one of his magical manoeuvres again and took out half the field at the chicane. It was actually of benefit to me as I moved up to ninth, and I was up to seventh when the engine gremlin appeared again. We need to find the problem sooner rather than later, because it’s costing us good results – and if we can get rid of it, I’m sure we can score some good results in the last three race meetings.”
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager: “After a fantastic qualifying session on Saturday, everything looked extremely promising for race day. We could have had a one-two finish in the first race, and although Darren was very unlucky we were delighted to see Jason win for the fifth time this season. Then the bad luck really set in, and we were not able to maximise on our points scoring opportunities. SEAT Sport UK is doing a great job with the chassis, but we all need to work together to find out what is causing these engine problems. When we do, we’ll be able to turn all our hard work as a team into points.”