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BTCC Results from Donington Park - Web Exclusive

Apr 18, 2011

Locals drivers, Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson, shared the wins in this weekend's three dramatic Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races on their home circuit of Donington Park. However, the event will be best remembered for defending Champion Jason Plato's high-speed crash.

Eurp 1104 04 o+btcc results donington park+rollover Photo 2/18   |   BTCC Results from Donington Park - Web Exclusive

But it was rising star James Nash who sensationally leads the points standings as the UK's premier motor racing series now heads south to the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire for its next exhilarating round on Sunday 1 May.

Having achieved a second straight pole position on Saturday with another new qualifying lap record, Matt Neal went on to win Sunday's first race - his second victory in a row - in his Team Honda Racing Civic turbo. He also set a new race lap record.

Second and third were the Vauxhall Vectras of Pirtek Racing's Andrew Jordan and 888 Racing James Nash.

In race two, it was Jordan's turn to take victory ahead of Nash and Neal. But the race's big talking point was Plato's crash - his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze running off the track at an estimated 120mph before striking a barrier and rolling three times. Plato was unharmed but it seemed his day was done...

Jackson then avoided a pile-up ahead of him in race three to claim his and Airwaves Racing's first victory with its new Ford Focus. He also became the fourth winner of the season's opening six races.

Jordan and Nash took second and third places to take podium places in all three Donington races.

The star of the show, though, was Plato - in just 90 minutes, his RML crew had repaired his battered car and he rewarded them with an emotional sixth place.

But it is Nash, yet to win a BTCC race, who now leads the points table thanks to his consistent high scoring - indeed, he has finished in the top six in every race so far this season. But close behind him are Neal, Jackson, Jordan and Plato. Significantly, Jordan achieved the highest cumulative score of anyone yesterday, which has put his title hopes back on track after a torrid opening round at Brands Hatch.

Reflecting on his crahs, Jason Plato had qualified mid-pack worked his way into sixth place in the day's first race before falling victim to a puncture - but that was nothing compared to the drama that unfolded in Race Two.

After a coming together between Gordon Shedden's Honda, Rob Austin's Audi and Liam Griffin's Ford on Lap One, Plato was knocked from behind onto the gravel at the Craner Curves. The car slid across the infield before mounting a bank and flipping into the air, rolling three times before coming to rest on its remaining three wheels.

Amazingly unscathed from such a dramatic accident, Plato thought his weekend was over, to the extent he changed out of his racing overalls. But even one of the biggest smashes in BTCC history wasn't going to stop the Silverline Chevrolet team, run by Wellingborough-based RML, from fighting their way back onto the grid for the third race.

It was the RML mechanics' amazing display of teamwork and efficiency, including two staff members who simply happened to be spectating at the East Midlands circuit on their day off, that was the real story of the day.

Team manager, Rod Underwood, said: "We had to give it our best shot. We didn't think there was a hope of getting the car out at first, but somehow it all came together and we did it. I'm still not quite sure how - two hours to fully rebuild a car, most of it was broken!"

"It was amazing," added Plato. "It looked an impossible task, the car looked like a Transformer, but the lads were just amazing, you could see the passion in everybody. That was teamwork - I had tears in my eyes, they had tears in their eyes, and to see their commitment makes up for all the bad weekends we'll ever have. There was real emotion out there today."

Race Three didn't disappoint, with Donington delivering its usual drama - five retirements in the first lap led to chaos, and a regrouping under the safety car that left pole-sitter Alex MacDowall vulnerable to attack from the faster turbo cars. Even so, MacDowall held on valiantly for fourth overall, with Jason yet again driving incredibly, bringing his bruised Cruze home sixth overall from 21st on the grid.

Eurp 1104 15 o+btcc results donington park+silverline Photo 12/18   |   BTCC Results from Donington Park - Web Exclusive

After the races, Nash said: "It feels unreal to be leading. Last year we really struggled but have transformed the car this year with the new turbo engine. I'm actually starting to get disappointed by just being on the podium - I really want that first win."

Former double champion Neal commented: "It was starting to look good early on with the win and the championship lead, but my car was damaged in race three so seventh was a relief. We're still right in there fighting."

Notably, several other drivers made their mark at Donington. Tom Onslow-Cole gave the AmD Milltek Racing.com team's VW Golf a first-ever points finish. Pirtek's Jeff Smith also achieved a career-best fifth and there were maiden top ten results for the Airwaves and WSR teams' rookies Liam Griffin and Nick Foster.

Elsewhere, Honda/Dynamics leads the Manufacturer/Constructor table, with Honda Racing topping the HiQ Teams Championship, while Nash and 888 Racing have moved to the top of the Independent drivers and teams' standings respectively.

A number of drivers were punished at Donington for on-track indiscretions:
Race 1, Andy Neate, officially reprimanded and 2 penalty points on his competition licence;
Race 2, Tom Chilton and Gordon Shedden, both officially reprimanded and 2 penalty points
Race 3, Dave Newsham, fined ?500 and 3 penalty points; James Nash, 2 penalty points.

2011 Dunlop BTCC Drivers' Points after Donington Park (round 2 of 10):
1. James Nash, 59
2. Matt Neal, 55
3. Mat Jackson, 54
4. Andrew Jordan, 45
5. Jason Plato, 43
6. Tom Chilton, 32
7. Gordon Shedden, 30
8. Paul O'Neill, 26
9. Alex MacDowall, 19
10. Robert Collard, 17

Manufacturers/Constructors' Points:
1. Honda/Dynamics, 107
2. Chevrolet/RML, 106
3. Arena/Ford, 83

HiQ Teams' Points:
1. Honda Racing Team, 78
2. 888 Racing, 66
3. Silverline Chevrolet, 59
4. Airwaves Racing, 54
5. Pirtek Racing, 53
6. Team Aon, 32

Independent Drivers' Points:
1. James Nash, 71
2. Mat Jackson, 67
3. Andrew Jordan, 50
4. Tom Chilton, 44
5. Paul O'Neill, 40
6. Robert Collard, 27

Independent Teams' Points:
1. 888 Racing, 71
2. Airwaves Racing, 68
3. GoMobileUK.com with tech-speed, 46
4. Team Aon, 44
5. WSR, 37
6. Geoff Steel Racing, 15

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