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Aug 28, 2014 - 06:19 PM
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MG Duo Takes Vital Points In Scotland, But Hope For More At The Rock
Posted by: newsla on Aug 28, 2014 - 06:16 PM
Sports Cars
MG Duo Takes Vital Points In Scotland, But Hope For More At The Rock


The seventh round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship delivered a better than expected set of results for Jason Plato, but team-mate Sam Tordoff, who took his first 2014 BTCC pole-position was left wondering what might have been after an electrical failure robbed him of a likely podium finish.

 

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The Greatworth team were understandably measured about possible outcomes from the BTCC’s most northerly event, given the previous two visits with the successful MG6 GT hadn’t delivered much; the Scottish track remained the only circuit on the BTCC calendar where an MG hadn’t featured on the podium.

Early signs implied that Plato and Tordoff would fair better than in years past, with both cars featuring in the top ten during free practice. Steps forward had been made with setup throughout the two 60-minute sessions and come qualifying, Plato and Tordoff commented on how good the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save backed machines were handling.

There was little surprise when championship leader Colin Turkington posted the fastest time in qualifying, but it was Tordoff who was second and the 25-year-old Yorkshireman inherited pole-position when Turkington’s BMW was demoted to ninth for an infringement at the previous event. This in turn promoted two-time champion Plato up to sixth, and gave the Triple Eight run pair arguably their best chance of a podium at the Fife track.

Come Sunday, conditions were good and Tordoff was buoyant ahead of the first race. After making a lightning getaway, the BRDC SuperStar pulled out a healthy 1.2s cushion to Rob Austin’s Audi and looked to be in a comfortable position. As the race reached the midpoint, Austin ate into Tordoff’s lead, and it became clear that all was not well with the #88 MG.

An electrical fault caused Tordoff to lose power and the team helped the JCT600 backed driver get the car going again via radio instructions, re-joining the field in 25th place. Once again the youngster, in only his second full-year of BTCC, kept a cool head and fought on, knowing any position from here on in was a bonus, taking 24th place on the run to the line.

Meanwhile, Plato had to this point given a textbook display of how to defend. With Mat Jackson’s Ford and Turkington hot on his tail from the off, Plato held sixth and for the most part kept pace with the works Honda’s of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal. However, Jackson and Turkington did get past the MG ace eventually, only for championship leader Turkington to spin out after an audacious move on Plato at the treacherous Duffus Dip. Jackson held off the advancing Plato for fourth at the flag, with just 0.6s between them as they crossed the line.

Early contact in the second race of the day aided the rise of both the Triple Eight run MGs, with Plato third and Sam 22nd. Plato rose further still, taking second when race leader Neal took a stop-go penalty. This in turn set up another intriguing battle between the MG-man and his earlier rival, now race leader, Jackson. Just as Plato started to make a dent in the deficit to the leader, Austin’s rear-wheel-drive Audi clambered onto the MG bumper, where it stayed until the flag. Jason took an impressive second, giving the MG6 GT its first podium at Knockhill in the process.

It was a frustrating race for Tordoff who continued his battle back to the front and got up to eighteenth as the flag fell in race two. It was an impressive display on such a short, tight track, and he was determined to get into a points paying position in the final race of the day in the early evening.

Once again the reverse grid draw did the team few favours; the pick of number ten from the draw meant Plato would start ninth on the grid and after quickly passing Fabrizio Giovanardi’s Ford, he quickly got stuck behind Austin’s Audi. There was contact between the pair when Plato seized a mammoth gap up the inside of the Audi driver into the hairpin, the move span Austin right around and blocked Plato’s path causing both drivers to lose places; Plato dropped to eleventh.

By lap ten, Tordoff was up to thirteenth and in the points. After briefly climbing to twelfth, the Bradford-based racer was outmuscled by Jack Goff’s Volkswagen. With the best of his soft tyres used coming through the field, Tordoff stayed glued to Goff to the finish, collecting three points in the process.

After passing sparring partner Jackson for tenth, Plato couldn’t get the better of Tom Ingram’s Toyota and former team-mate Alain Menu’s Volkswagen, despite harrying them hard over the final handful of laps. Tenth place in race three sealed an impressive weekend for the most successful driver in BTCC history; outscoring his two main title rivals (Turkington, Shedden) for the second consecutive weekend and closing the gap to leader Turkington to an attainable 39 points.

Elsewhere, post Knockhill MG remain in the hunt for the constructor’s standings, despite losing a little ground to Honda. In the HiQ Team’s Championship MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save remain third, 124 points off eBay Motors.

The series now heads to the challenging Rockingham Motor Speedway in delightful Corby, Northamptonshire (September 6/7) for round eight of the 2014 series. Highlights of the Knockhill weekend will be broadcast on ITV4 & ITV4 HD on Saturday 30th August at 15:30 BST.

Quotes

Jason Plato, driver #99:
“We did the best we could and that’s all anyone could’ve asked for of this weekend. Everyone knew that this wouldn’t be our strongest track, so to have had Sam on pole and for me to take a podium as well as score some solid points, it’s a big bonus on where we thought we would be before the weekend. The championship is now a massive mountain to climb, but I’m going to give it everything. I’ve been in this game a long time now and I know that it is going to be a tough task to catch Colin; the BMW is night and day better than anything else out there and that’s not to knock Colin or the WSR guys. My mission for the end of the season is to win more races and as we go to Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch GP we should be able to do just that. The car works well around them all and I have my tail in the air.”

Sam Tordoff, driver #88:
I guess it was a weekend of ‘what might have been’. I was thrilled to qualify second and then with Colin’s penalty to get Pole. Nobody could get close to him in the BMW, so to be best of the rest when arguably it is not a track suited to our MG was fantastic. I led the first race for eighteen laps and thought I had a second place in the bag, but an electrical gremlin robbed us of a certain podium and potential win. From then, the rest of the day was effectively ruined despite my best efforts. I battled as hard as I could from the back and progressed, but clean overtaking opportunities are limited at Knockhill. Overall, it was a very frustrating weekend and we as a team deserved way more than just one points finish. Hopefully we can get more points and a victory out of the remaining races.”

Race Weekend Information
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Knockhill
Knockhill Circuit, Dunfermline, Fife KY12 9TF
1.300 miles (2.092km), 9-turn race circuit
August 23rd-24th, 2014

2014 BTCC driver standings (after round 21 of 30)
1 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) 309
2 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) 286
3 Jason Plato (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save) 270
4 Rob Collard (eBay Motors) 220
5 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) 217
6 Mat Jackson (Airwaves Racing) 207
7 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) 190
8 Sam Tordoff (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save) 143

2014 BTCC Manufacturers Championship
1 Honda/Dynamics 659
2 MG/Triple Eight 641

2014 BTCC Teams' Championship
1 eBay Motors 531
2 Honda Yuasa Racing 473
3 MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save 407

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