The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

How Not To Behave

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.

Jonny Adam takes the win in the British GT at Rockingham

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.

Comments made against Tom Boardman were beyond unprofessional.

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.

Plato: Controversial

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.


6 responses

  1. Nice one Chris, succinct and to the point. Can you imagine the outrage if Matt Neal acted in this manner? Let’s not forget Plato tipped Neal into a spin back across the track at a much faster Snetterton track, sheer luck meant the worst damage was on the Civic and not to a driver, steward or fan.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

  2. Some very good points there Chris, particularly the one about sports stars and Twitter. A footballer or a cricketer can’t seem to sneeze on Twitter without a public backlash and demand of an apology.

    Unfortunately, nobody in the mainstream sports media will have noticed his remarks. The only newspaper with half an eye on the BTCC seems to be The Sun, but unfortunately they are one of Jason’s sponsors.

    As someone who covered the racing yesterday maybe I should kick up a fuss.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

  3. GP

    he’ll probably say that someone nicked his twitter account like he did last time he got drunk.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  4. Rich705

    I’m glad this article was written as Plato really wound me up and as a BTCC fan I think he’s bringing the sport into disrepute. We all know Plato is a good driver, but personally I’m getting sick and tired of him whinging every time he doesn’t win, and I beleive he’s just showing himself up now. Every race meeting there is gonna be drivers who have bad luck or simply just a disappointing weekend for many different reasons, but these drivers keep a cool head and put in down to experience, even when interviewed on tv, unfortunately Plato seems to think it’s acceptable to use tv interviews or twitter to show blatant disrespect to other drivers, the BTCC organisers or his own team who havnt provided him with a win in every race.
    I think the Plato/Boardman clash was a racing incident and Plato was clearly holding up Boardman on the straights and even in the corners so no punishment should be given to Boardman as it wasn’t done with malice, and afterall BTCC is renown for contact which adds a bit of excitement to the championship and has done for as long as I can remember.
    I hope the BRDC discipline Plato for his lack of respect shown to a fellow driver on twitter as he’s giving the impression to other drivers young and old that this behaviour is acceptable.
    I think its time for Plato to do some historic racing or similar which isn’t as competitive as I don’t think he’s bringing anything positive to the BTCC anymore, and tanishing his (great) name!

    September 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

  5. Very good article, whilst the race contact and accident have split views comments like that are out of order, as you have said any other driver would of been in a lot of trouble for those comments and damaged their career.

    The fact is Plato has hit a lot of drivers in the past, I was there when he pulled a scary move on the back straight at Silverstone in 06 and sent Chilton the wrong way across the track. He needs to watch his actions on Twitter it can be a very career damaging tool. He has already had his account hacked last month and it upset people so he should know that this stuff is not clever.

    Plato should really issue a full apology and be seen to shake hands at Rockingham with Boardman and be seen to bury it there. Plato would really come out better that way. If not its more ammo for the Plato haters and is a real stain on his career. Just as he becomes a member of the BRDC.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  6. To be Honest i expected nothing less off Plato as he has cried all season over things not going his way … you only have to look at last race meeting when he took Matt Neal out did you see Matt getting on Twitter nope …..

    As for now being on the BRDC well think they will have something to say to him over his actions

    And as for the Apology it took 2days for them to issue it ( hmmmm wasnt it TIN TOP TUESADY ) P R stunt incase it was brought up by the fans ……

    We dont need drivers like that in BTCC if they cant handle it GET OUT AND GO WTCC where he wants to be ………..

    September 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

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