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MOTORSPORT: Plato eyeing third crown
11:00am Saturday 20th October 2012 in Sport
Oxford's former champion Jason Plato is right in the title picture as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion comes to a thrilling climax at Brands Hatch tomorrow.
Four drivers – championship leader Gordon Shedden, Plato, Matt Neal (still nursing a broken hand) and Andrew Jordan – prepare to do battle in their nail-biting final three races of the season to decide the crown.
While Fife’s Shedden is the strong favourite to take the title for the first time, Plato is still in the hunt for a third crown.
The Scot holds a holding a 15-point advantage over Plato at the top of the table.
However, with 67 points still up for grabs – 20 for a win plus assorted bonuses – Plato, who won both his previous titles in 2001 and 2010 at Brands Hatch, is the man in form.
Plato, who this week turned 45, won twice at Silverstone a fortnight ago in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 as Shedden, teammate Neal and Pirtek Racing’s Jordan all struggled in their Honda Civics.
“We’ve had some rotten luck along the way,” said Plato.
“But our persistence eventually paid off at Silverstone when finally we split the Hondas in the points table.
“People have to remember, even with a great team like Triple Eight Race Engineering behind our car, it is still MG’s first season back in the BTCC for nine years.
“I believe we have an even better chassis than Honda.
“Fifteen points is a big ask, but I missed the title by five points on the Brands GP track three years ago having gone into the day 28 behind.”
Worcestershire’s Neal, who won the title for a third time 12 months ago, is not giving up on a fourth title.
Neal, bumped to third in the standings by Plato at Silverstone having led the championship for much of the season, is 31 points adrift of Shedden.
Staffordshire’s Jordan, from Lichfield, is the big outsider for the crown.
The 23-year-old is 61 points behind Shedden, but were he to somehow miraculously lift the title he would become one of the youngest champions in the BTCC’s 54-year history.