Plato leads way after Brands final race success

Jason Plato celebrates his win - Pictures: Simon Hildrew

Mike Bushell crashes out with Nic Hamilton in race two - Pictures: Simon Hildrew

Race two victor Matt Neal leads other race winners Plato and Rob Collard - Pictures: Simon Hildrew

Dartford's Tony Gilham - Pictures: Simon Hildrew

First published in Other Sport

JASON Plato gave MG a win on its return to the British Touring Car championship at Brands Hatch on Sunday, with Andrew Jordan and Dave Newsham completing the podium in the third and final race.

Plato's race three victory came after a restart following an incident at Druids, which took out several cars.

On the first start, Rob Collard made a storming getaway from row two of the grid as Oliver Jackson unsuccessfully tried to defend his second place from Mat Jackson.

Rob Austin followed him through, while Jeff Smith had his mirrors full of Plato, who soon claimed sixth place.

However, just as the race was beginning to settle down, Oliver Jackson spun on the approach to Druids.

It appeared that his exit from the race was aided by fluid on the circuit as he was followed by Tom Onslow-Cole, Daniel Welch, Dartford’s Tony Gilham, Adam Morgan and Tony Hughes.

With so many cars stranded in a dangerous area, the race was stopped immediately.

News Shopper: Jason Plato celebrates his win. PICTURES BY SIMON HILDREW.

However, Jackson wouldn't make the restart either, his engine having failed and judging by the driver's attempts to keep it on the track, the likely source of the dropped oil.

After a delay to clear the track, 17 cars lined up for the restart, with Collard on pole position from Austin.

Plato was sandwiched between the Pirtek Hondas of Jordan and Jeff Smith for a 20 lap race.

Collard made the perfect start again, while further back Neal spun at Paddock Hill.

News Shopper: Mike Bushell (21)  crashes out with Nic Hamilton in race two

Newsham demoted Plato but was unable to shake off the MG, which gained the place back on the run out of Clearways soon after.

Plato then set the race's fastest lap, revelling in his new mount.

Up front, Jordan executed a move on Austin out of Clearways, with Plato doing the same, if a little more forcefully on the following lap.

With drivers avoiding the oil at Druids, it was a popular place for passing as Jordan used the same move to take the lead on lap eight, which Plato also copied on lap nine!

News Shopper: Race two victor Matt Neal leads other race winners Plato and Rob Collard

Plato was visibly quick as he hunted down Jordan but the young Pirtek driver was aware of the need to defend into Clearways.

Plato's initial response was to make his presence known at Druids as they approached the first of the backmarkers.

Trying the manoeuvre once more on the following lap, he then found a way through at Clearways as Jordan failed to make his Civic wide enough entering the corner.

Jordan staged an initial counter-attack, but Plato started to pull away in the final laps. Meanwhile behind the leading pair, Newsham had cleared Collard as Jeff Smith and Austin attacked the leading BMW.

News Shopper: Dartford's Tony Gilham

Behind, Shedden was recovering places and as Jeff Smith pushed Collard wide, Shedden, already past Austin, attacked.

Newsham faced a tense final lap as the Honda closed in on him but just made it to the flag to claim a podium position after a tough day.

Behind Jeff Smith and Austin, Collard came home seventh, with Neal recovering to eighth, ahead of Aron Smith and Lea Wood.

After the race, Shedden was excluded from the result, as his car was deemed not to be running when the red flag was shown.

Ironically this handed Tony Gilham, who is driving the Scotsman's 2011 car, a top ten finish, and ended a shocking weekend for last year's runner-up.

By contrast, Plato leaves Brands Hatch leading the championship from Neal.

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