Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden locked out the top step of the podium between them at last weekend’s BTCC round at the famous Silverstone circuit.
However, despite the MG and Honda drivers’ attempts, championship leader Andrew Jordan extended his lead at the head of the standings to 34 points over Matt Neal.
It was a good weekend all-round for Plato, the MG driver qualifying his car on pole, with teammate Sam Tordoff alongside him.
Plato was imperious, taking a light-to-flag victory. He held off a challenge from his young rival, with the two British drivers taking a one-two finish, while Matt Neal turned a dismal qualifying performance into a superb finish, coming from ninth on the grid to score a podium in the first race.
It was tight though – Colin Turkington in the eBay Motors BMW nearly pipped him to third place but couldn’t quite do it, the two crossing the line just 0.008 seconds apart.
It wasn’t quite as easy for Plato in race two, with the two-time BTCC champion having to work much harder to secure his second win of the day.
Title leader Jordan kept with the two MGs, eventually passing Tordoff around half race distance. He then went on a charge and reeled in Plato, sending his Honda Civic down the inside at Silverstone’s Maggotts complex in a late move.
It appeared as if Jordan had made the audacious move stick – although the pass hadn’t been fully completed, Jordan took the lead as the two ran down the back straight side-by-side, giving him the line for Brooklands bend.
However, Plato wasn’t going to take it lying down. Trimming his line to get the best traction, Plato dived back through at the fast Woodcote bend, returning to the lead of the race – which is where he stayed to claim his 80th BTCC race victory:
“Of all the 80 victories I’ve had – that (race two) was one of the most enjoyable. It’s been a good weekend. What’s important for me is to win and it’s maximum attack.
“I’m going to Brands Hatch with one thing in mind – while there are guys in front of me worrying about the championship, I’m going there to win, so they’d better get out of my way!”
Jordan finished second – increasing his points gap over Neal, who came home in sixth – while Aron Smith in the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus rounded out the top three.
Race three was a tougher challenge for Plato, however, finishing 6.4 seconds behind the leaders in seventh place.
It was last year’s champion, Gordon Shedden who produced a stunning drive to take the victory from seventh on the grid, while his teammate battled with Tordoff, which ultimately ended in tears.
The BTCC is meant to be a non-contact sport, but try telling it to these drivers. In his fight with the MG, Neal slid wide on the exit of Brooklands corner, loosing ground to Tordoff. Neal recovered well, but the slide was enough for the MG driver to gain a run on the Honda.
Locked side-by-side as they entered the long Luffield right-hander and the fast Woodcote kink, contact was inevitable. The MG spun and Neal dropped back. It wasn’t the only contact in the race either.
Northern Irish driver Colin Turkington battled with Mat Jackson in the Ford Focus on the penultimate lap, which put the eBay Motors driver out of the race and all but called time on his championship charge. Jackson was later penalised three penalty points and fined £500, despite finishing third behind Aron Smith, who picked up another strong podium.
Turkington was understandably unimpressed:
“It’s really frustrating when someone who’s not in the championship battle effectively ends mine. It would have been a bit easier to accept if I’d been scrapping with the front four guys and there had been a coming together and I come off worse, but Mat had nothing to gain from the move and that’s what is hard to take.”
Andrew Jordan now leads the title standings on 378 points ahead of Matt Neal on 344. Shedden sits in third on 343, while Turkington is just one ahead of Jason Plato on 330 points.
Did you watch the BTCC action last weekend? What did you think of the race and some of the overtaking moves? Let us know on Twitter @twwhiteandsons or leave a comment on our T W White & Sons Facebook page.