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Plato bullish about MG form at Brands BTCC opener

Friday, March 30 2012

Jason Plato is refusing to rule himself out of the 2012 title race despite admitting his new MG squad are not 100 per cent ready for the British Touring Car Championship season opener at Brands Hatch this weekend (31 March - 1 April).

The two-time BTCC champion faces a new challenge this season after agreeing to join Triple Eight Racing's works backed MG team for the manufacturers return to the championship. With the deal announced early this year, the squad have been working around the clock in a bid to ensure the new MG6 NGTC cars for Plato and team mate Andy Neate are ready. Although the 44-year-old has had very limited running in his 2012 challenger, he remains confident he can fight for the title and be competitive at the Kent venue for the season opener.         

He said: "I don't see it as a tough year, it's a really exciting programme. We have assembled a pretty remarkable team to be honest. I think the last few years I've been in the championship I've won on average six or seven races and that is still the target this year. I think if we can get through the first three meetings with reliability but if we try something wacky on the car and we learn something from it, then the sooner we can unleash its performance and mount a championship campaign. I think come the end of the year we will be in the mix. The car has got potential and I've got a warm little inner glow.                          

"I think we will be in the mix at Brands Hatch. We want to make sure we finish and pick up points."

While Plato has won more BTCC races than anyone in the championship's 53 year history, the Oxford based driver revealed he is extremely excited about the new challenge he faces this season, after two years with the works RML Chevrolet outfit.   

He said: "I always work at my best when I am centric to a motorsport team and that means in terms of the marketing and all the business activity which goes along with it. Myself and business partner Brand Pilot Limited have basically put all this together. From a pure personal side and business side it's very exciting. We have brought MG back into motorsport and it's a first toe in the water for a major Chinese corporation in motorsport.

"We are in great shape, the car looks fantastic and they have done a brilliant engineering job on it. The only negative is we are a bit behind in testing but we also know Honda have had big problems in testing, we might get those problems, but the chances are we won't. We are a little bit behind but that is the only downside but I think we can sort that out quickly."

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on 31 March - 1 April are available on the gate from £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.