BTCC: It's not over yet

Jason Plato refuses to give up on his championship hopes despite his bitter-sweet trip to Knockhill last weekend.

Jason Plato refuses to give up on his championship hopes despite his bitter-sweet trip to Knockhill last weekend.

The honorary Geordie had started off in fine form at the tricky Scottish track, setting pole and taking his sixth win of the year in race one.

However it all went pear-shaped in race two when an accident on the last lap left his SEAT Leon destroyed and unable to make the final race.

But Plato - who this week will tie the knot with his stunning fiancee, Sophie - remains upbeat that he still has a chance of claiming his second BTCC crown.

Reigning champ, Team Halfords Honda driver Matt Neal heads the title chase on 241 points, while JP sits third on 185, just behind Team RAC's Colin Turkington on 188.

"It's not over, we've got two rounds and three races at each round to go, and as we all know with touring car racing, anything can happen," Plato said.

"Knockhill wasn't the best of weekends for us, but I think we're more than capable of bouncing back and giving the others a run for their money. There are enough points still to pick up, so this championship is far from done."

For anyone who didn't see race two last weekend, it was possibly the best race on wheels anywhere in the world this season, with around three seconds covering the top seven runners up until the final lap - when what can only be described as mayhem erupted.

Plato had started from pole, but was running in second when on lap eight, Neal punted him into the gravel. He rejoined in ninth spot and scrambled back up to fourth, behind his Honda rival.

As the pack headed towards the hairpin on the final lap, he saw Neal had left a gap and went for it. But Neal closed the door, the pair touched and spun.

Enter Tom Chilton in the VX Racing Astra, who had nowhere to go except into the front of Plato's car, ripping off the front wheel, while behind him more cars appeared to spin off in sympathy.

"The guys in the team did a stellar job to try and repair the car for the last race, but there just wasn't enough time," he explained. "That's the problem of having three races in one day - if something happens that's major it's very difficult to get the car out again.

"We've just had to pack up from Knockhill, we'll go home and put some plasters on our cuts and bruises and turn up at Brands Hatch later this month and kick some a*se!"

The penultimate round will be held at the Kent track on September 23-24, and SEAT look likely to take the manufacturers title for the first time, with a 92-point lead over Vauxhall.

A Mini adventure

Croft circuit is hosting its penultimate car meeting of the 2006 season today, but the real stars of the show will be ordinary folk.

As part of the Dunlop-backed Great and British Motorsport Festival today, Dunlop is letting Mini drivers old and new take a spin around the Darlington track.

James Bailey of Dunlop Tyres explained: "The Mini is one of the most iconic symbols of British motoring and we are delighted to have the Mini Challenge as part of Dunlop's Great and British Motorsport Festivals.

"The events are designed to be more than just a typical race weekend and for Croft we thought it would be a great idea to give the public a chance to experience the race circuit as well."

The chance to drive their own car around one of the country's top circuits is open to the first 100 Mini drivers to arrive before 10am today, who will also receive a limited edition gift bag.

In addition, the first 1000 people through the main gate will receive a Dunlop winner's cap.


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