BTCC 2017: Subaru pair Plato and Sutton dominate at Knockhill

Knockhill BTCC

Jason Plato led home BMR Subaru team-mate Ashley Sutton in the opening race

Double series champion Jason Plato claims his first win of 2017, while team-mate Ash Sutton reinforces his title challenge with his fifth victory of the year

Team BMR Subaru Levorg drivers Jason Plato and Ashley Sutton were the big winners in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship event at Knockhill, claiming a win each. 

While Plato’s victory in the opener was the 96th of his career, it was his first of the season. Sutton’s race two win was his fifth of 2017, and a big boost to his championship bid.

BMW driver Colin Turkington also had a strong weekend, claiming third place in all three races at the Scottish track to move into the points lead.

Tom Ingram claimed his third victory of the season in his Toyota Avensis in the final race of the day. 

Here’s how rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the BTCC unfolded.

Race one

Plato claimed the 50th pole position of his BTCC career with a late effort on slicks in a mixed-weather qualifying session, with team-mate Sutton lining up alongside him on the grid.

The double champion held the lead at the start, and then led home Sutton after an untroubled run. In fact, the only mistake made by either driver was a bungled attempt to give Sutton a bonus point by letting him lead a lap: they made the switch just after the official timing line, so it didn’t count.

Plato said his improvement in form was down to discovering a problem with the car’s differential, which he believes was the cause of his season-long struggles, after qualifying. “It was like a different car in this race,” said Plato.

Turkington claimed the final spot on the podium – and with it the points lead – ahead of his WSR BMW team-mate Rob Collard. 

The undulating Knockhill circuit clearly suited rear-wheel-drive cars, with James Cole battling up to fifth in his Subaru. Ingram finished sixth – and top front-wheel-drive runners – in his Toyota Avensis. 

Matt Neal put in a storming drive in his works Honda Civic Type-R, charging from 21st on the grid to ninth place. His title-chasing team-mate Gordon Shedden finished 11th in his ballast-laden car.

Driven: Honda’s 2017 BTCC racer – includes video

Race two

Plato and Sutton dominated again in the second race, although this time the positions were reversed.

While Plato, carrying the maximum 75kg of ballast on his Levorg, got away well from pole, Sutton bided his time before dragging past him on the main straight midway through the race. Plato kept the pressure on his young team-mate, but couldn’t find a way back past. Sutton’s fifth victory of 2017 moved him to within two points of Turkington in the title battle.

Turkington, Collard and Cole again completed the top five. Free of ballast, Shedden was far more competitive and charged to sixth place.

The second race featured a lot more drama than the opener, starting with a first-corner pile-up in the middle of the pack that caused a red flag and eliminated several cars.

Race three

Ant Whorton-Eales (Audi S3) drew pole for the reverse-grid third race, but was immediately under pressure from a fast-starting Ingram.

When Whorton-Eales made a small mistake at the chicane, suffering a puncture in the process, Ingram hit the front – and quickly charged clear, building a lead of more than seven seconds.

Two late safety car periods eroded Ingram’s lead, but on both occasions he was able to pull clear from his rivals to secure his third win of 2017.

Things were a lot more dramatic behind him. Shedden battled up to second, but soon came under pressure from BMW pairing Turkington and Collard. Local hero Shedden was able to withstand Turkington’s challenge, while Collard lost out after sliding off the track on the penultimate lap.

That handed fourth place, and crucial championship points, to Sutton, who moved past Subaru team-mate Cole on the run to the line. Plato finished sixth.

Turkington now leads the championship with 265 points, just four ahead of Sutton and 12 clear of Shedden. Collard’s late incident means he is 17 points adrift with three weekends remaining.

The next event is at Rockingham on August 27.

Read more

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BTCC Snetterton: Sutton takes a double

Source: Autocar Online

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