DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
OXFORD’S Jason Plato is confident a mixed 2013 campaign will see him start this season in top gear.
The MG KX Momentum Racing driver, a two-time champion, will be in one of 31 cars on the grid for this weekend’s opening round.
The Oxfordshire man took more wins and pole positions than any other driver in 2013, but his season was punctuated by five non-finishes that left the two-time champion 17 points adrift of Andrew Jordan after the final contest.
Plato has won more BTCC races than any other driver in history and produced a sensational performance last time out at Brands Hatch, winning two of the final three races.
“I’ve got mixed feelings on last year,” he said. “We really should have won it.
“Three of our five DNFs came when we were leading and would have had guaranteed wins, but I am an eternal optimist so I look back on the good points.
“In the second half of the year we were on the pace and we won more races and got more poles than anyone else.
“Most importantly, we got the car working in the wet as we demonstrated in the final meeting at Brands Hatch.”
Plato is sure that the team will start 2014 in the right place following a quite public mid-season confrontation.
“The best thing from my perspective came out of something that was quite negative,” he continued.
“At Snetterton and Knockhill I was pretty critical of the team for mistakes that were being made.
“That’s quite a bold thing to do openly, and I didn’t take the decision to do it lightly.
“I’m a part of the team – I wasn’t pointing fingers, but as a team we’d gone off the rails a bit.
“We did a lot of soul-searching, we fell out, we made up, and we came back out at Silverstone a different outfit. And then we blew everyone away.
“That’s the good bit for me, to give the team a kick and for everyone to raise their game and pick it back up was a really rewarding thing and it’ll make us a better team and stronger going into 2014 because of it.”
He added: “This is the first year where we’ve done some meaningful development over the winter.
“We know the car is inherently quick.”
SAM Brabham hopes to make his own history at Brands Hatch.
The 19-year-old tackles the first three MSA Formula Ford rounds of the season, as the series once again supports the BTCC package.
A six-time outright podium winner and Scholarship runner-up last year, the third generation driver from Sibford Ferris, near Banbury, returns for his second year in single-seaters as a strong title contender.
“Launching my 2014 racecar in Brabham livery inspired by the first F1 car my Dad drove, on the straight named after my grandfather back in 1976 and circuit where my family’s had so much success, is just mind blowing,” said Sam.
“The car looks fantastic and the long-awaited unveiling today gets my season off to a great start. I’m hungry for my first Formula Ford win.”