JASON PLATO says he is proud of the way his team has worked around the clock to make him a championship challenger, but warned his rivals that he is still not happy with his car.
Plato, driving for the MG KX Momentum Racing outfit, led the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship until the last round at Oulton Park when he was overhauled by the Honda duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden.
He is now intent on returning to the summit at Croft, a circuit he knows well having been raised on Tyneside.
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The debut this season of the MG6 GT sees Plato reunited with Durham-born Ian Harrison, boss of Triple Eight Engineering, which prepares the car – a partnership that thrives on the demands each makes on the other.
“We all work tremendously hard. They are a brilliant team, with a great work ethic and they understand that life is short and you have got to enjoy it. Motorsport is a stressful environment at the best of times and you have got to have some fun and they have a really nice way of going about their business,” said Plato, who was described by Harrison as a demanding driver who knows what he wants.
“I don’t suffer fools and I demand everyone puts 110 per cent in,” he says, by way of explanation.
“However, if that means we make a few honest mistakes along the way then I don’t have an issue with that.
I don’t have a problem with things going wrong, so long as everybody has put the effort in.”
Plato is quick to acknowlege the work that goes largely unseen by the general public.
“I think what Ian and the team of people there have managed to pull together in such a short of space of time is terrific,” he said.
“Let’s not forget we have had a little bit of bad luck along the way and a few of the things that have gone wrong have not been of the team’s making and yet we are still in the hunt. We are still in there, punching way above our weight and I get really excited thinking about how great it will be when we get all of our ducks in a row.”
The ducks certainly weren’t in a row at Oulton Park when, having qualified on pole for race one, a weld in the MG’s suspension cracked leading to it having to be pushed off the grid.
It was something that could not have been forseen and put the pressure well and truly on Plato for race two. But he showed typical bulldog spirit to fight through from the back of the grid to grab a remarkable third place and improved on that in race three, finishing second. “I am nowhere near happy with my car at the moment,” said Plato ominously.
“It still doesn’t feel like it’s my car, we still have a lot of work to do on it.
“But the problem is, if we take Oulton Park as an example, we had done the job in qualifying, we got it where we wanted it, we got a set-up on for race one which we think is going to do the business and then the rest of the weekend you are on the back foot trying to fix things.
“Then, by its sheer nature, from the back of the grid, you are not looking after your tyres, you are overworking things, you are taking a few more risks than you should do which then affects all different things, you are then in a different place to where you should have been, starting at the front.
“We need one of those weekends where things just flow, start in what would be a true position and see where we go from there.
“I think now arriving at Croft not leading the championship, so we are not starting with maximum ballast on, will only assist us and I think we will be very strong.”