Jason Plato

BTCC driver
Name = Jason Plato

| Caption =
Nationality = flagicon|ENG
Car number = 11
Team = SEAT Sport UK
Car = SEAT León
Championships = 1
Wins = 46
Podiums = 116
Poles = 25
Fastest laps = 43
First year = 1997
First win = 1997
Best position = 1st (2001)
Last season = 2008
Last position = 3rd (223 points)

Jason Plato (born 14 October 1968 in Oxford, England) is a British auto racing driver currently living in Monte Carlo. He was 2001 BTCC champion, and has finished top 5 in the championship 10 times.

Early years

Plato was educated at The King's School, Tynemouth. After success in karting he raced in Formula Three and Formula Renault. In 1996 he entered the Renault Spider championship, and a dominant title win saw him earn the second drive in the Williams-Renault BTCC team for 1997.

BTCC part 1

He made a sensational start in the Laguna, taking pole for his first 3 races, and ultimately winning 2 races as a rookie, taking 3rd in the championship won by team-mate Alain Menu. He was 5th in the series in each of the next 3 years, having joined Vauxhall in 2000. For 2001 the series had a new set of reduced-cost rules, less big-name drivers as a result, and Vauxhall had by far the best car. In a contentious and hard-fought season, Plato won the championship after team-mate Yvan Muller's car set alight at the last round.

tock cars and elsewhere

With an ambition to get into NASCAR racing, Plato moved to the British ASCAR stock car scene in 2002, finishing 3rd in the championship.

In 2003 he was a driver coach for SEAT, this was the link which led to him returning with the Spanish team in 2004.

BTCC part 2

He was employed by SEAT to help with their driver development in 2003, and when they entered a BTCC team in 2004, he was the natural choice to lead the team. He was third in the championship that year, winning more races than anyone else, although the team used the reverse-grid regulations to their advantage. The driver finishing 10th in the first of the meeting's 3 races had pole (and a light car) for race 2, and the winner of race 2 had pole for race 3 (although with a now-heavier car), so Plato frequently dropped back to 10th in race one, often going on to win races 2 and 3. As a result of this, the championship rules were changed to reversing the top 10 of the race 3 grid, somewhat scuppering this tactic, and the pace of Matt Neal's Team Dynamics Honda and Yvan Muller's Vauxhall left him unable to challenge for a second title in 2005. He finished 4th in the 2005 Championship with three wins to his credit, with the team now run by Northern South.

For 2006, Plato continued in the British Touring Car Championship as lead driver for SEAT and their new León touring car. He was the only driver in the three-driver team to compete in all 10 meetings - his team-mates, two times BTCC champion James Thompson and ex-DTM driver Darren Turner, shared the team's second Leon. After the first 3 meetings he was a point behind Thompson in 3rd in the championship, and two retirements in the races at Thruxton did not help his cause. After winning race 1 at Croft, race 2 was his 200th start, and it was nearly a glorious one, before Matt Neal passed him with 2 laps to go. He won 2 out of the 3 races at Brands Hatch to keep his faint hopes of winning the BTCC in 2006 alive, but a poor qualifying run at Silverstone finally ended his hopes. He did pip Colin Turkington to 2nd in the championship, meaning that he has now finished in each of the top 5 championship positions.

Winning the first two races of 2007 set the tone for a title battle with Fabrizio Giovanardi's Vauxhall. Giovanardi took the series lead at Knockhill but Plato retook it at Donington Park, after fighting from 9th on the grid to come 5th in race one and then win race 2. He started race 3 from 9th (after spinning this position on the grid-reversal wheel) but fought through to take the lead from Mike Jordan, with some uncertainty over whether he had passed under yellow. To ensure that he was not penalised he allowed Jordan to repass him, before retaking the lead a lap later. The battle went to the final round, with Giovanardi winning by 3 points to take the championship, with Plato declaring that "Fabrizio beat us the right way. He is a very worthy champion and there were no shenanigans between me and him" [http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/65727] .

In 2008 the team switched to a diesel-powered Leon. The first win for a diesel car in the BTCC came in round 7 at Donington Park. Two wins at Snetterton helped to championship close the gap on Giovanardi [http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/jul/14/touringcars.motorsports2?gusrc=rss&feed=sport] but a mechanical failure in race 3 was a precursor to a similar problem in race 2 at Oulton Park, after winning race 1. These incidents have typified a season in which performance has not been matched by reliability, despite the same cars being largely reliable in the World Touring Car Championship. Plato goes into the final rounds at Brands Hatch still mathematically in with a chance of the title, but admitted that the large points difference between him and Fabrizio Giovanardi made this unrealistic. Both he and Giovanardi had poor final rounds at Brands, allowing Mat Jackson to leapfrog Plato for 2nd overall in his privateer BMW.

Plato's plans for 2009 have been affected by Seat's shock announcement to pull their factory team out of the BTCC at the end of the 2008 season. It is speculated that Plato is planning to take a sabbatical from racing in order to focus on his TV Work.

Other Commitments

Plato can also be seen presenting the Channel 5 British TV series Fifth Gear co-starring with Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson.

Plato was injured in a Caparo T1 supercar in October 2007 during filming for Fifth Gear at Bruntingthorpe proving ground. The car caught fire at an estimated 150 MPH and Plato described his injuries as follows:

“The back of my neck is burnt and so are my face and hands. I obviously couldn’t take my hands off the steering wheel whilst braking and my right hand is more badly burnt than my left."
He was taken from the scene by former BTCC driver Phil Bennett and after treatment at three hospitals, including Stoke Mandeville Hospital's specialist burns unit, Plato was able to compete in the following weekend's final race in the 2007 BTCC calendar. [http://www.btcc.net/html/generalnews_detail.php?id=758&PHPSESSID=8bf937813a7bfde2cf0e702f8498e6c5]

He has previously co-presented Channel 4's motoring program 'driven' alongside Mike Brewer and Penny Mallory.

He has also competed the Bathurst 1000 and Sandown 500 numerous times, but without any great success. His last attempt at Bathurst was with the Holden Racing Team and was driving with the late Peter Brock. Plato and Brock's race ended with Plato causing a crash resulting in John Cleland's car to roll onto its roof.

Plato also presented the popular Sky One television program Mission Implausible where he and Tania Zaetta compete to perform three stunts over the course of each episode.

Trivia

*Plato's current personal car collection includes a Porsche 911 Turbo with the registration plate P1ATO, BMW Z4 and SEAT León Cupra R
* He and his family are Catholic.

References

* [http://www.btcc.net/html/generalnews_detail.php?id=758&PHPSESSID=8bf937813a7bfde2cf0e702f8498e6c5 "Plato injured in Caparo filming"] , "BTCC.net", October 10 2007. Accessed October 10 2007

External links

* [http://btcc.net/html/driver_detail.php?id=2 Profile at BTCC.net]
* [http://www.btccinfo.co.uk/drivers/plato.html Profile from btccinfo.co.uk]
* [http://www.btccaction.co.uk/drivers/plato.php btcc:action profile for Jason Plato]
* [http://www.seatsportuk.co.uk Corporate SEAT Sport site]
* [http://www.sky.com/portal/site/skycom/tvguide/article?contentid=264610 Sky One website for Mission Implausible]
* [http://wiki.seloc.org/a/Jason_plato South east Lotus owners club wiki on Jason Plato]


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