Greatworth, Banbury – 28th July 2014 - This weekend (2/3 August) sees the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save team return to track action, when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) reconvenes at Norfolk’s Snetterton 300 circuit for the second half of what has been a closely fought season.
Drivers Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff arrive in Norfolk looking to get back in the Championship hunt after mixed results over the previous three weekends have seen their respective challenges lose pace. The intrepid duo remain positive and are ready to fight back.
“It’s been a wee bit frustrating this year,” said Jason. “We’ve just got to forget the past few events, what’s done is done. Our performances have been okay and I think it’s fair to say the car wasn’t where we wanted it to be at Croft. At Oulton we were the quickest front-wheel drive car and had good race pace, that’s where we need to be from here on in. ”
Sam agrees, “We’ve struggled a bit this year, but that’s more down to the field becoming closer, other teams developing their packages, getting more from what they’ve got. We were ahead of the game with development in the NGTC era, and now we’re finding more slender improvements, but they’re still positives all the same. That said, we’re coming to some of the circuits, Snetterton being one, where the car is really strong, so hopefully we can be right up there this weekend.”
Last year Snetterton offered both MG drivers some cause for cheer, with Sam taking his maiden BTCC victory in race one after qualifying on pole, and Jason finishing right behind the 25-year-old to secure a second 1-2 for the Triple Eight-run squad. The final race of the weekend saw Jason escape unharmed from a bizarre accident with two rivals.
“Yes its true, I love Snetterton,” remarked Sam. “I liked it before the additions were made, and think the changes have just made it better. It’s got a lovely flow to the lap, it’s really nice to drive and it’s quite a long lap too, so it’s really challenging. Having difficult corners like Coram, Brundle, Nelson, that’s great, and as you come under the bridge (Brundle to Nelson), that is probably one of my favourite sequences of corners anywhere, it’s fantastic.”
“We should’ve won two races last year,” quipped Jason. “We had good pace all weekend and, well, the rest is history.”
On the accident last year, Jason added, “It was much bigger than we first thought. The impact was actually a factor of ten bigger; the Armco is new there and doesn’t ‘give’ as much as (older Armco) at other circuits, and it also doesn’t feel that quick at that point of the circuit, but it’s a great reminder of what doesn’t feel quick, often is. We’re definitely hoping for better luck this year.”
In past seasons the post-summer break has been kind to both Jason and Sam and last year only Gordon Shedden outscored Jason on his march to third in the standings. This year has also seen Jason improve his qualifying record (grid average 2.6), with the Oxfordshire-based double BTCC champion almost always a front-row qualifier, no matter what the circuit.
“Typically I come back from the summer break energised and full of beans with my tail up. It’s pretty simple; we have to be absolutely bang-on from here on in. We must be challenging for pole-position, taking wins and scoring maximum points. If we do that, then we’re in with a shout. This championship is nowhere near over yet, we’ve got plenty of races left to play with. While Colin is a bit up the road, all it takes is one bad weekend, and he hasn’t had one yet, and it can all turn on a sixpence. “
Similarly, Sam has ambitions for more wins and podiums, and with just Knockhill remaining as a round that doesn’t truly suits the dynamics of the MG, the Yorkshireman is confident of moving up from eighth in the points.
“We have to make the most of circuits where we’ve gone well in the past, even with the field closing up. It’s about getting it right in qualifying and carrying that into the first two races. The third race is often a bit of a lottery, but finishing and finishing well is what we must do. Last year I won at Snetterton and took my first BTCC victory, wouldn’t it be great to get another here?”
Race Weekend Information
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Snetterton 300
Snetterton Circuit, Norwich, Norfolk NR16 2JU
2.969 miles (4.779km), 13-turn race circuit
August 2nd - 3rd, 2014
2014 BTCC driver standings (after round 15 of 30)
1 Colin Turkington (eBay Motors) 228
2 Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing) 221
3 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) 200
4 Jason Plato (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save) 179
5 Rob Collard (eBay Motors) 170
6 Mat Jackson (Airwaves Racing) 138
7 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) 127
8 Sam Tordoff (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save) 122
2014 BTCC Manufacturers Championship
1 MG/Triple Eight 462
2 Honda/Dynamics 461
2014 BTCC Teams' Championship
1 eBay Motors 394
2 Honda Yuasa Racing 345
3 MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save 299
Photographs by Jakob Ebrey Photography