It took all of our strength but between us, MG and Triple Eight agreed that we simply could not entitle our pieces about this Easter weekend’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car meeting at Donington Park as ‘Eggs-tra Special’ but special it truly was.
Set against a backdrop of an uncertain weather forecast, the MG teams both on and off the track arrived on Good Friday ready to put in the ground work to ensure a successful weekend.
Saturday started slowly for us off the track with the cold, windy weather seemingly contributing to a crowd that felt much lower than last year and dissipated completely as soon as the BTCC Qualifying session had been completed by mid-afternoon. This was where the good news started and just kept getting better.
Jason Plato set a barnstorming lap early in the session in his MG6 GT that obliterated the previous lap record. The quality and competitiveness of the field had been highlighted through the earlier free practice sessions as time and time again the 2013 Pole Position time set by Gordon Shedden was passed by a large number of drivers in the 31 car field. The MG KX Clubcard Fuel save team were not to be denied and a string of strong laps ensured that racing would get underway on Sunday with Jason on Pole Position and Sam impressive in starting from 3rd. Other great news was that for the very first time there were three MG6’s in the top ten as Marc Hynes other Triple Eight race prepared MG6 GT running for the Quantel Bifold team rounded out the top five rows of the grid.
Sunday began in the driving wind and rain and there was real concern that it would undermine both of our efforts on the day but maybe we underestimated the hardiness of the British Race going public as, although maybe a little later than normal (and who could blame them!) the crowds began to arrive and the MG team in the trade area scored the first ‘performance of the day’ award by scoring a record number of test drive leads for the MG3 and the MG6 and impressive numbers signing up to the MG database to receive more news on the brand, our cars and the BTCC team CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.
When the lights went out for the first race it became quickly clear that any concerns over the conditions were unfounded as straight from the off Jason Plato stormed off Pole and into the clear road ahead whilst Sam Tordoff pushed straight past Gordon Shedden’s Honda and quickly over took Colin Turkington in his fast starting rear-wheel drive BMW and established an MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save 1 / 2 that they never looked like relinquishing as they controlled the race imperiously at the front to achieve a first MG lock out of the 2014 season.
After that fantastic start, the second race was full of drama as a huge downpour meant that Round Five of the championship was the first ‘full wet’ race of the 2014 season. Thanks to two more fantastic performances, it was more of the same, albeit slightly different for the two MG6 GT’s – performing brilliantly, despite the lack of grip, thanks to the superb preparation by the Triple Eight race engineering team and skill of the two drivers. This time, it was to be glory for Sam Tordoff as an exceptional start from the front row saw the KX Akademy ‘Apprentice’ overtake his mentor Jason Plato at the very first corner and the pair immediately began to pull away. The drama was only just starting as a succession of accidents further down the 31 car field saw two prolonged periods under the Safety Car that twice allowed the pack to close back up on the two MG6 GTs but nerves of steel and superb race craft saw Sam show no signs of the nerves and difficulty he later admitted to experiencing in the driver’s seat as each time he calmly rebuilt his lead before taking his second career win and celebrating with his ecstatic team, family and friends. It was some birthday present for the young driver who only celebrated his 25th Birthday on Saturday but controlled a difficult race in treacherous conditions like he had a decade worth of seasons behind him. Jason Plato completed another excellent drive to complete the ‘double double’ and was never seriously troubled by those behind him.
The three race win weekend is the holy grail of all BTCC teams due to the equalising regulations such as imposed tyre changes, huge success ballast weights and the reverse grid that makes the third race often the most exciting of the day. MG has never achieved a three win weekend and hopes were high that, starting from 5th and 6th place on the grid (the best possible positions after a first and second place in race two) that it might just be on. Sure enough the drivers started like a house of fire with Jason quickly rising from 5th to 2nd place and Sam up to 4th. The initial concern was whether it would be possible for anyone to catch the fast starting and, crucially ballast free, BMW of Colin Turkington however, this did not prove to be an issue as having pushed early, the two MG6’s began to drop pace as the race wore on with Sam ultimately dropping out of the top ten and Jason Plato performing wonders to still pick up a strong points haul in 6th place – enough to see him head to the next meet at Thruxton in Hampshire as joint leader of the Championship.
A great weekend all round and everything to play for for the MG teams on and off the track as the 2014 season continues over the May Day bank holiday weekend.
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