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British Touring Car Brands Hatch First Round - Web Exclusive

Arch rivals Jason Plato and Matt Neal shared the wins in yesterday’s opening three races of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season held at Brands Hatch circuit.

Apr 4, 2011

Plato, the reigning 2010 Champion, won twice in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze to beat Andy Rouse’s record of 60 wins in the BTCC, and built himself an early championship lead as the title race now heads to Donington Park for its next three races (Sunday 19 April). Matt Neal’s win was also significant because it was the first victory for Honda’s new 2.0L turbocharged engine built to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car technical regulations.

Neal shattered the Brands Hatch BTCC qualifying lap record on Saturday to line up on pole position for race one. But within two corners, his Honda Racing Team Civic had been spun into retirement by a rival who was later penalized. However, Plato went on to win ahead of youngster James Nash, second in his 888 Racing Vauxhall Vectra, which is also powered by an NGTC-spec turbo engine. Third, in Team Aon’s new turbocharged ‘Global’ Ford Focus, was Tom Chilton. Plato, despite his car carrying the maximum success ballast of 45kg, led all the way to win race two as well, ahead of Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden and Mat Jackson in the Airwaves Racing team’s Ford Focus. Shedden’s result came courtesy of a superb drive from last to sixth in race one following a heavy 130mph crash in practice on Saturday.

Having set a new race lap record in race two, Neal finally got the win he craved in race three when he led all the way, having been drawn on pole position for the reversed starting grid.

Jackson was again on the podium, this time finishing second ahead of Paul O’Neill, a fine third in the tech-speed team’s new Chevrolet Cruze.

 Plato leaves Brands Hatch with an eight-point lead over Jackson at the top of the Drivers Championship. A surprise third is Nash, having gone on to add fourth and sixth place finishes in yesterday’s second and third races.

Eurp 1103 12 o+british touring car brands hatch first round+winner Photo 5/17   |   British Touring Car Brands Hatch First Round - Web Exclusive

Jackson, meanwhile, leads the Independent Drivers Championship from Nash and O’Neill.

Plato said: “Given the gap to Matt in qualifying, I didn’t expect to be leading this early, but the chances came our way and we capitalized. Beating Andy Rouse’s record is a lovely bonus – he’s one of the legends I used to watch as a kid and it’s hard to believe that 14 years have passed since I got my first win when I came into the BTCC in 1997! But I’m already thinking more about the next meeting at Donington – the circuit layout will make the turbos much harder to beat, and I suspect we’re going to be in for more than just a tough weekend.”

Chevrolet/RML lead the Manufacturers/Constructors Championship from Honda/Dynamics, but the Honda Racing Team heads Silverline Chevrolet at the top of the HiQ Teams Championship. Airwaves Racing leaves Brands ahead in the Independent Teams Championship, chased by 888 Racing and tech-speed. Meanwhile, Alex MacDowall was punished for several incidents at Brands Hatch: Race 1, 3 penalty points on his competition licence and fined £1000; Race 3, 20 seconds time penalty and 3 penalty points; Drivers Briefing, 1 penalty point and fined £150 (late attendance).

2011 Dunlop BTCC Drivers’ Points after Brands Hatch (round 1 of 10):
1. Jason Plato, 38

2. Mat Jackson, 30

3. James Nash, 26

4. Gordon Shedden, 25

5. Matt Neal, 23

6. Paul O’Neill, 20

7. Tom Chilton, 16

=8. Alex MacDowall, 6

=8. Robert Collard, 6

=8. Tony Gilham, 5

Manufacturers/Constructors’ Points:
1. Chevrolet/RML, 60

2. Honda/Dynamics, 57

3. Arena/Ford, 46

HiQ Teams’ Points:

1. Honda Racing Team, 44

2. Silverline Chevrolet, 42

3. 888 Racing, 31

4. Airwaves Racing, 30

5. tech-speed, 20

6. Team Aon, 16

Independent Drivers’ Points:

1. Mat Jackson, 40

2. James Nash, 37

3. Paul O’Neill, 30

4. Tom Chilton, 24

5. Tony Gilham, 15

6. Robert Collard, 13

Independent Teams’ Points:

1. Airwaves Racing, 40

2. 888 Racing, 37

3. tech-speed, 30

4. Team Aon, 24

5. WSR, 17

6. Pirtek Racing, 8



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