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Plato takes opening BTCC win after clash with Jordan

Sunday, March 31 2013

Jason Plato took the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory of 2013 at Brands Hatch today (Sunday) after a tense two-way battle with Andrew Jordan that erupted into controversy as the pair clashed at the final corner. Rob Austin took third, having led the early laps.

Three rear wheel drive cars elected to start on the soft option tyre: Rob Austin, Rob Collard and Colin Turkington, who was at the back of the grid after his qualifying accident. Adam Morgan was also on the white-walled Dunlop as the cars lined up to take the first start of the season.

Austin made a stunning getaway as Gordon Shedden bogged down and then slid at Paddock, just missing the gravel, and his team mate was also in trouble with damaged bodywork rubbing on a tyre. The works Hondas dropped to fourth and eighth, with the reigning champion suffering the most.

Austin took the lead onto the pit straight at the end of lap one, but Plato was threatening from behind, as the MG also demoted polesitter Jordan before the safety car came out to allow James Cole's stricken Insignia to be recovered. Also out at this stage was Dave Newsham, whilst Collard was in the pitlane with work being carried out under the bonnet of the BMW.

Austin survived the restart, but Plato followed as the Jordan and Neal Hondas defended from Sam Tordoff. Neal still had tyre troubles from the errant bodywork, leaving Jordan able to hold station behind the leading pair. Shedden then recovered to aid his team mate, now under furious attack from the second MG.

Tordoff attacked Neal at Clearways on lap eleven and the works Hondas almost clashed as Shedden tried to follow through. Squeezed against the pitwall, Shedden elected to hold station but one lap later he was through at Paddock Hill.

Up front, Plato made his move at Druids, taking the inside line and now Jordan lined up the Audi. The Pirtek team were having a much better time than the works Civics as both Shedden and Neal pitted with tyre problems, losing a lap in the process.

After a few laps following the Audi, Jordan finally made it through at Clearways but had a second to make up on the leader. Team mate Jeff Smith was doing well in fifth behind Tordoff, and holding off Frank Wrathall, Adam Morgan and a storming Turkington, promoted a place following troubles for Mat Jackson.

In the final laps Jordan increased the pressure on the leader, halving the gap, but Plato seemed to be holding on. Heading into Clearways for the final time the Civic took a tight line, which was resisted by the MG and both slid into the gravel. Austin looked set to score a shock win but both managed to escape and with enough of a gap to third, crossed the line in the same order as they entered the final corner.

"We all make mistakes," Plato said, generous in victory. "There was no malice and it didn't affect the result. My language on the radio was substantially worse until the team reminded me I'd won!"

Austin was third, losing out by a fraction under four seconds, from Tordoff and Jeff Smith. James Kaye took the S2000 honours from Lea Wood. Race two will take place at 14:17.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Race 1

1, Jason Plato, MG KX Momentum Racing, MG6, 27 Laps
2, Andrew Jordan, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, +2.168s
3, Rob Austin, WIX Racing, Audi A4, +6.130s
4, Sam Tordoff, MG KX Momentum Racing, MG6, +7.789s
5, Jeff Smith, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, +8.425s
6, Frank Wrathall, Dynojet, Toyota Avensis, +13.622s
7, Adam Morgan, Ciceley Racing, Toyota Avensis, +16.948s
8, Colin Turkington, eBay Motors, BMW 125i M Sport, +18.923s
9, Aron Smith, Airwaves Racing, Ford Focus, +20.253s
10, Daniel Welch, Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp, Proton Gen-2, +22.114s

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