Double British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato will make a welcome return to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in 2022 behind the wheel of a BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R. Having spent almost three decades racing in the BTCC championship – having participated in the Super Touring, S2000, NGTC and now the new Hybrid era – Plato has gone on to amass the most amount of race wins of any driver in the series (97) – 34 wins clear of old foe Matt Neal and 37 wins ahead of four-time BTCC Champion, and all-time great, Andy Rouse.
However, BTCC fans elation of having one of the most high profile drivers back in the series will be somewhat tempered with the news that this will be his final season in the championship.
Plato, and his new BTC Racing team were at Knockhill this week as they continued their preparations for the 2022 BTCC season that kicks off at Donington Park in just over 16 days – 23/24 April. Resident host Duncan Vincent caught up with the man for a quick chat.
“We’ve got two bits of news I suppose.
“Firstly, I’ve done a deal with Steve (Dudman) to race for BTC this season and I’ve had a long career in this game and a really great career, but what I need to do is take control of my exit point. So, 2022 will be my last year racing in the BTCC.
“Now whilst I like coming to Knockhill, I do still harbour ambitions of racing in sunnier climates, so I won’t be retiring from motorsport, I just won’t be returning to some UK venues as a Touring Car driver after this year,” commented Plato.
Announcing his news early, will give many of his fans up and down the country an opportunity to say goodbye in true Touring Car fashion. Almost like a farewell rock tour.
“I’ll be 55 this year and each season it get harder and harder to find the right opportunity. And, what I don’t want to happen is for me to just drift out the championship through lack of opportunity. I’d rather be in control of my own destiny in that regard and leave on a high.
“Touring Car racing is taxing, it’s taxing on the family life, as it’s 24/7; and although I might be elsewhere other than at a race track… I’m never out of the car (in my mind) and perhaps it’s time to try something different and be less consumed with it all.
“Looking ahead to this new era, you know; I’ve not done to many laps in a hybrid car and only a handful in the Honda. What I will say though, it’s (the Honda) been an arch nemesis of mine over the years and there are a few areas where the Hondas have been particularly strong, better than most, especially in the modern era.
“And having raced against Hondas, side by side with bent wings on both sides, it’s nice to get the opportunity to see under the skin of these machines; I couldn’t exactly walk into the Dynamics garage back in the day and ask to have a look under the bonnet of their cars… for obvious reasons. But, initial impressions are it’s great in all the areas I thought it was and I will have to change my driving style slightly to get the best out of it.
“In terms of the hybrid angle, my eyes will be in the dash more now this season than they ever have in my BTCC career. There is a lot to think about, but we’re all in the same boat and I’m looking forward to it. I certainly think there is more to come and more capabilities will be found as the season progresses, which is really exciting,’ concluded Plato.
So there you have it. Make sure you pencil in a date to see Jason Plato compete in the BTCC this year, in what will be his final season. Jason and his BTC Racing squad will also be at Knockhill on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July for our 30th Anniversary Lokring UK raceday. Hopefully, JP van bow out of a Championship that he’s dedicated much of his racing career too in spectacular fashion by competing at the very forefront of the series throughout 2022.
Whatever happens this year, it looks set to be another thrill-a-minute ride for BTCC race fans.
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