I’m sure you all remember the case of the mystery car from my blog post last week. It seems there are a lot of you very keen to find out what it actually is and it even had the likes of Martin Haven and the guys at Radio Le Mans scratching their heads. Well, wonder no more. The case has been solved and the Car Identified. I would have revealed all earlier, but unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances which I needed to resolve, I didn’t get round to writing this.
After writing my post last week, I got a huge response. Mostly from people trying to guess what it was. However some people did come forward with some useful snippets of information which I used to did a little deeper. With information ranging from someone who thought they spotted it in a race teams truck, to people who had seen it at a track day. Also a few more photos were bought to mine and Graeme’s attention. Working on a few leads, emails were sent out to various people in the hope that I could get a definitive answer.
Having spent hours searching and digging, I had found out who had built the car, but little information was given on their website. So an email was also sent to them. On Wednesday, I received a number of emails back. A couple saying they didn’t know anything about the car but two were of great help. The company I had found, Mark Bailey Racing, did indeed the build the car and managed to give me some information about it. They also told me who they thought was the current owner. The other email was received from the trackday organisers of events which this car had been spotted at. They did know the owner and had forwarded on the email I had sent them along with a link to my blog.
The owner had got in touch not long after with the information we are all desperate to find out. So here it is, in the words of current owner Paul Spencer:
‘I can solve the mystery for you as I own the car. It’s a unique car built in 2000 using Schuppan 962 bodywork and a bespoke chassis designed especially for it. Well done those of you who mentioned 965/962. It’s powered by a Nascar spec short stroke Chevy engine producing 670bhp and uses a Hewland 6 speed sequential. It had never really been used before I bought it 2 years ago and we’ve had to make a lot of changes to the suspension to make it track worthy. It’s coming together now and should end up as a really quick car. It’s as fast as the Group C cars from the 1980s and a bit of a monster to drive. I’m happy to go into more detail if anyone’s interested. I’ll take the car to a few RMA track days this year and may race it if I can find any suitable races to enter.’
I have spoken to Paul via email as I was keen to find out more and see if he had any photos we could use but he is in New York at the moment and said he would contact me when he gets back. So hopefully, there will be more to come on this unique car.
A couple of good photos of the car in action at Spa Francorhamps can be found here.
After my last blog post about Jason Plato and his disgraceful attitude and behaviour after the Knockhill round of the British Touring Car Championships, it seems that he just doesn’t know when to stop.
Despite writing an apology on twitter last week it seems it was totally meaningless as his column for The Sun newspaper shows. If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here. Yet again he takes the opportunity to have a go at Tom Boardman. Although using less offensive language, he still makes Tom look like a dreadful driver. He also makes out he was hit really hard and deliberately shoved into the barrier. As stated last week, contact was only slight and I have no doubt that there was no malice intended. Plato seems to forget the numerous times he has forced competitors off and then told the media that it was only a ‘Racing Incident’.
Plato also contradicts himself, by stating that the Turbo powered cars are 7mph faster than the normally aspirated ones yet complains that Boardman told the media he was faster than Jason. But what really annoys me is that Plato says tongue in cheek that Boardman’s statements to the media were ‘Real Class’. Come on, is Plato being serious here? Can someone please explain to him what a hypocrite is? You only need to read his nonsensical column to see what a total joke that statement is. Jason Plato wouldn’t know what ‘Real Class’ was if it roared up behind him and smashed his car into a barrier. Has Boardman criticised others? Has Boardman resorted to name calling on social media? Has Boardman moaned and complained bitterly about the pace of rival cars all season in the public spotlight? No. I just hope the readers of The Sun who aren’t fans of the BTCC don’t believe this garbage that’s been written.
It’s about time Plato just let it go. It’s also about time his team got him a good PR representative. If he already has one then I suggest they get the boot. I’m getting bored, frustrated and annoyed with all this now and he is making himself out to look like an idiot. However, rather cleverly, he has written off his title chances. We all know that with nine races left this season there are still a lot of points up for grabs. All it takes is for a front runner to have a dreadful weekend, as demonstrated by Matt Jackson last time out, and Plato can haul himself right back into the battle. He knows this too, but by saying he can’t win takes the pressure off him. If he doesn’t take the title at the end of the season he can turn round and say it wasn’t his fault and no doubt blame a certain driver. But if he were to win the championship, then he has given himself the opportunity to blow his own trumpet and tell whoever will listen how great he is by winning when he had no chance.
I’d like to think the Silverline Chevrolet driver will now keep his head down and concentrate on battling fairly for points rather than blurting out the guff he has of late but I doubt it. I know he is capable of getting back into the championship battle and would rather he put all his effort into his racing than taking as many opportunities to have a go at someone or moan about something as possible. I know that the turbo powered cars are faster than the normally aspirated ones, but the teams and drivers that run a turbo car are all abiding by the rules. They are doing nothing wrong so personal attacks are totally unacceptable. I only hope that there are no silly ‘revenge’ manoeuvres in the remaining events and the racing talks for itself.
This weekend I was at Rockingham for the British GT & F3 championships where I witnessed Felipe Nasr win the F3 title and ex BTCC driver Jonny Adam win the first race of the season for the Beechdean Aston Martin team alongside Andrew Howard. Also this weekend another ex BTCC driver Steven Kane won the American Le Mans series race at Baltimore with Humaid Al Masaood.
Meanwhile, it was all kicking off north of the border in Scotland as Knockhill hosted the British Touring Car Championships. Whilst there were many talking points throughout the event, the main one involved Jason Plato and Tom Boardman in race three. With the current champion leading, Boardman was close behind seeking his first race win. It was obvious the Seat Leon was faster in a straight line and as the pair started lap 4 the Chevrolet received a nudge from behind under braking for the first turn. However, a subsequent nudge further into the first complex was enough to send Plato off and into the tyre wall leaving Boardman to claim his first BTCC Victory.
Now whilst there was contact, it was slight and probably avoidable but on another day in another situation would not have led to a retirement. However opinions are divided as to whether there should have been punishment handed to Boardman as a result. Obviously, Plato himself was not happy, but had the roles been reversed, I’m sure he would have written it off as a racing incident. While he is never happy to be on the receiving end, he has given out more than his fair share of contact in the past.
We can all argue and debate this subject for a long while, as all the Plato fans will disagree with the non Plato fans and vice versa. That’s fair enough. We all love rivalries and let’s face it, you get heated debates in all sports from rival fans. However, I would like to think that nearly every fan of Jason Plato would agree that his angry response on Twitter that evening, plenty of time after the ‘heat of the moment’ was totally unacceptable. To call a fellow competitor a ‘Talentless Pikey’ stepped way beyond the boundary of professionalism. Whilst there maybe one or two drivers in the championship who’s talent could be debated, Tom Boardman is not one of them. Jason’s response to a BTCC fan and twitter user who told him it was a stupid thing to say was also unacceptable and showed him for the ungracious and sore loser he can be.
Jason is a well regarded driver, for that there is no doubt and a role model to many. Also, as a representative of the BRDC he should be setting an example and acting in a professional manner. There are many sports stars who have landed themselves in hot water over comments on twitter and I would like to think this situation doesn’t go unnoticed by the powers that be. At the very least, a public and personal apology should be made.
There are many good racing drivers out there that struggle to get sponsors and a budget together to enable them to get a race seat. Good PR and a strong fan base help these guys no end. This isn’t the case for Jason Plato, sponsorship deals and public exposure come along frequently to add to his extensive fan base and many teams would offer him a race seat at the drop of a hat. If a young upcoming driver had his attitude and behaved the way he does at times, then they would no doubt be kicked out of a team quite quickly. Unfortunately, Plato is a big draw for the BTCC and he knows that. He loves being a big fish in a small pond and is happy to voice his opinions when it suits him. He is quick to criticise others but doesn’t consider his own actions and their possible consequences. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, no man is bigger than the British Touring Car Championships and it will continue to survive without him. I have no problem with drivers showing passion, but he went beyond that and I hope someone makes him realise the error of his ways pretty soon.
So the news is that within BTCC, the NGTC Turbo powered cars that were designed for a cost effective level playing field within the championship will be restricted ahead of the next round at Thruxton. Why? Because Jason Plato is upset that they are quicker than his S2000 spec engine car, that’s why.
The two engines were made available to teams well before the season started with the Chevrolet teams and the BMW’s opting to run the non turbo powered S2000 engines over the New Generation Touring Car option which has a turbo. Many people will remember the farce that occurred last season with the Team AON Gas powered Turbo Ford Focus constantly being restricted because it was a bit quicker than the rest of the field in straight line. Of course, Jason Plato didn’t like this and was more vocal than most with his dislike of this, despite Team AON running within the regulations and not in any way dominating the championship standings.
So now with the new regulations in place to create a level playing field, the whole situation has reared its ugly head yet again. Despite winning the first two races of the season at Brands Hatch, Mr Plato was yet again complaining about the turbo powered cars. Yes they were slightly quicker out of the corners, but the non turbo powered cars were quicker into the corners. Each car has unique driving characteristics and handling, we all know that. You have to work to the strengths of the car you have and try and improve the weaknesses. However this is clearly not good enough for the two time BTCC champion and qualifying in seventh place for the first race at Donington only made him angrier.
His moaning was even taken to a whole new level after suffering a puncture in the first race. He blamed the turbo powered cars for it. Apparently, due to their speed, he had to push the car to its limits to stay on the pace which then caused the puncture. Do me a favour. If you want to win a race then you have to push the car to its limits anyway. Is it fair to moan just because someone is quicker than you and you aren’t winning? He seems to forget that a few years ago he was running a Seat Leon Turbo, yes TURBO diesel which was quicker than the rest of the field in a straight line. Did he complain then? No he didn’t. The only reason he didn’t win the championship that year was due to the unreliability of the car.
Unfortunately, series director Alan Gow listens to this moaning and acts on it. The Turbo cars are being punished despite doing nothing wrong. They are running within the regulations but are being pegged back because a team who had the option to run a turbo powered car like everyone else, chose not to and are upset because at some circuits they aren’t the quickest. In what other sports does this happen? Does the FIA punish Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in Formula one because they are quicker than the Sauber’s, Force India’s or the Toro Rosso’s? No. Does the IAAF tie Usain Bolt’s shoe laces together because he is the fastest man in the world? No. You stick to the rules and you get on with it.
If you ask me Jason Plato needs to learn how to be gracious in defeat and respectful to others. We all know he is a good driver, and winning more touring car races than anyone else goes to show that. But his moaning and complaining is making him look like a spoilt brat and quite frankly, I myself am getting embarrassed for him! He can win with the car he has got and we have already seen that twice already this season. So get your head down and put your effort in to racing instead of moaning Jason and more wins will follow. It’s nice to have a closely fought championship battle, the fans don’t want to see the same driver win every race and they certainly don’t want to see someone whinge and moan because they didn’t.
Finally, if you like my blog, you can still vote for it in Longlife Exhausts quest to find the best car blog here. I’d be very grateful if you did.