Brands Hatch GP


The final round of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship delivered three enticing encounters, and the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save team didn’t leave empty-handed; a dominant 1-2 finish in the first race enabled the Greatworth-based squad to scoop the prized Manufacturer’s/Constructor’s title for MG, confirmed by double points scores in the remaining two races.

Winning the Manufacturer’s/Constructor’s title is the highlight of the three-year relationship between 23 BTCC Champions Triple Eight and resurgent British car manufacturer, MG, which has seen the combination take an impressive 22 victories, 54 podiums, 16 pole-positions, and eighteen fastest laps.

After a stirring qualifying 1-2 the day before, Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff duly converted their one-lap pace into an important race 1-2, their third of 2014, but it wasn’t to be plain-sailing. After heavy rain overnight, Plato was bogged down on the greasy side of the track and it was team-mate Tordoff and Championship rival Colin Turkington who powered past into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. Plato’s MG got the better of the BMW before the lap was over and the first of several safety car periods bunched up the pack.

MG’s rivals Honda were amongst the cars involved in the first corner fracas that prompted the deployment of the safety car; both factory-supported Civics retired in unrelated incidents at Paddock Hill Bend. Matt Neal was taken to hospital for precautionary x-rays and wouldn’t play a part in the final two races. 

On the eighth lap of race one Tordoff complied with the team’s request to let a pacey Plato through, an effort that would prove somewhat in vain once Turkington fended off the challenge of Mat Jackson and established himself in the required third place, with the point for the fastest lap of the race cementing the BMW driver’s Championship win.

Following the double DNF for the Hondas and news spreading of Neal sitting out the remaining two races, it became apparent that potential penalties aside, Triple Eight and MG had actually sealed the Manufacturer’s/Constructor’s title before the start of the second race.

While overcast conditions threatened rain, the second race of the day played out in dry conditions, as both Plato and Tordoff set off from their front-row starts in rapid fashion. Newly crowned Champion Turkington’s rear-wheel drive BMW powered between the MG pair, showing once again its advantage off the start line.

Another first lap incident required a safety car and one lap after the restart Plato tried to pass Turkington up the inside into Paddock Hill Bend. The BMW moved across the path of the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save driver, putting his wheels onto the grass. As the pair approached the apex of the corner, Plato hit a pothole, which launched his MG into the rear of the BMW, sending the new Champion into the barriers, immediately ending his race.

Multiple race winner, Jackson, sneaked ahead of Plato and into the race lead, before losing control of his Ford at Hawthorns and exiting the race. Race lead back to the #99 MG. Turkington’s team-mate Rob Collard seized the opportunity to pass Plato after Jackson’s off, before Adam Morgan did similar a few laps later. When Morgan forced his Mercedes up the inside of the BMW for the race lead at turn one, Plato followed, and re-took second place. Morgan’s lead was short-lived however, and the WIX Racing driver careered off track at Sheene, re-joining in second place. 

Plato benefited from his rival’s unforced error and duly took the flag for his second win of the day, leading home Morgan and Tordoff. The Yorkshireman delivered yet another steely drive after putting in a good defensive display from a feisty Andrew Jordan, before battling past Collard to take third.

Shortly before race three, Plato was banished to the back of the grid and given three penalty points for the incident in the previous race with the newly-crowned BTCC Champion. Due to it being Plato’s third ‘strike’ of the year, a ten-place grid drop was extended to the last place on the 28-car grid. A further protest from Turkington’s West Surrey Racing team saw Plato given a 20-second time penalty, which dropped the #99 MG to thirteenth place and promoted Tordoff to second, for his third double-podium weekend of 2014. 

Ahead of the third race of the day and the final race of the 2014 BTCC season, the heavens erupted and a mighty downpour washed over the 2.43 mile GP circuit as darkness also set in. Plato elected to start from the pit lane and avoid a potential grid-incident, while Tordoff started from ninth.

Following yet another first lap crash, the safety car was deployed and gave the MG duo a chance to assess the conditions at a more sedate pace; Sam was ninth and Jason 22nd. The treacherous conditions and low light levelled the field and the BMWs were not as omni-present as in previous races, with the MGs scything up the order. By lap nine Sam was fourth and Jason was inside the top ten in tenth place, having stuck a move on the new BTCC Champion that caused him to celebrate on the team radio. In the final laps Plato passed Morgan, Nick Foster, and Tom Ingram to finish seventh, with Tordoff taking the flag in fourth after a combative drive with Jackson. 

The final weekend of the 2014 season sees Plato finish second in the championship 35 points adrift of Turkington and 50 clear of Honda's Gordon Shedden. Tordoff improved to seventh overall in the standings, 22 off Collard and 48 ahead of Neal. MG / Triple Eight finished 95 points ahead of Honda / Team Dynamics to take the Manufacturer's / Constructor's title. In the HiQ Teams Championship, MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save secured second with 643 points, 81 behind eBay Motors, but 88 ahead of Honda Yuasa Racing.