Burning Rubber: Gowla powers to third in first outing

Northumberland's Graeme Gowland has launched his assault on the Spanish CEV Championship by powering to third in his first race at Albacete.

Northumberland's Graeme Gowland has launched his assault on the Spanish CEV Championship by powering to third in his first race at Albacete.

Following his impressive debut in last season's Virgin Mobile R6 Cup, the 21-year-old from Allendale opted to try his hand abroad this year in a bid to make it big in one of the sport's biggest and most influential countries.

Riding his 2007 Joe Darcey Honda CBR600-RR, `Gowla' - in his first ever race at the circuit - took pole in a dry and sunny first qualifying session, a time which was to go unbeaten as rain hit during the second session.

At the green light, the youngster suffered a difficult start, pushing him down to fifth as the pack tipped into the first corner.

Just two corners later he had made a move which stuck on fourth-placed Jordi Almeda.

As the race leaders began to eke out a gap up front, he continued to push, and as third placed David Bonache crashed out, he fell prey to Almeda and slipped back to fourth.

Keen to conserve his tyres, Gowla began to post a string of consistent laps of around 1.34, and by lap 10 had found the momentum to steam back past Almeda.

He managed to pull out enough of a gap to remain safe, and finally crossed the line in third.

"To get pole position was fantastic at this level of racing not only for myself, but also for Gerard my team boss, all the Joe Darcey team and all of our sponsors including Dunlop and Showa," he said.

"This is still only the start of my second season in road racing so to say I am delighted is a bit of an understatement!

"I didn't make a clean start in the race but I rode well and am pleased to be on the podium this early in the season."

Gowla first began to turn heads last August when the Virgin Mobile Cup, part of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, visited Croft in North Yorkshire.

Taking his maiden win in a rain-hit race, he then went on to do exactly the same at the following round at Cadwell Park, and then rounded off 2006 with his third win at the season finale at Brands Hatch in October.

His next outing in the Spanish CEV Championship is on May 27 at Catalunya.

Plato sitting pretty

Jason Plato is sitting pretty at the top of the British Touring Car Championship standings after scoring his fourth victory of the year at Thruxton - putting him in an enviable position for when he returns `home' next month.

With the UK's leading four-wheel series taking a break before heading to Croft on June 3, JP is now on 107 points, nine ahead of nearest rival Fabrizio Giovanardi after scoring a second, a sixth and then a win last weekend.

And the good news for Plato fans? He's got to where he is on tracks which don't suit his SEAT Leon . . . meaning when he hits the Leon-friendly circuits, he should really be flying.

"A first, a second and a sixth is a good weekend's work for us at Thruxton.

"Fabrizio Giovanardi's had a very strong weekend, but we thought that Vauxhall would take some points off us here," he said.

"We now head off into the mid-part of the season to circuits that really suit the SEAT Leon, which means I should be able to pull in even more points.

"I'm really looking forward to going to Croft and Oulton Park, because that's where we'll be strong and at the end of the year what we have scored at Thruxton might make the difference.

"In terms of winning a title, every little helps."

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