Plato: MG goal is to be 'competitive' in the BTCC
MG KX Momentum Racing driver, Jason Plato, knows there is a lot of work to be done before the new team makes its BTCC debut at Brands Hatch on 1 April.
Plato might hold the record for the most overall race wins in the BTCC, but the Fifth Gear presenter is realistic about his goals for the 2012 season and will be happy to just be competitive.
Autoblog caught up with the double BTCC champion at the launch of the new team, and asked him what it feels like to be part of this exciting British venture.
Autoblog: After your success with Chevrolet, what prompted your move to the MG Team?
Jason Plato: I understand the value to a manufacturer of a really joined-up marketing programme which is centred around a racing activity.
You know, that opportunity arose with MG and it is an exciting project. I like a big challenge and I know we can deliver on the track, because the base car, the MG6, is a good platform.
I have previous experience and won my first championship with the team we've chosen to run the programme - Triple 8 Racing. To be involved with this project from the start is an exciting opportunity.
The racecar hasn't been built yet, when do you expect to have your first shakedown test?
Well, the target is mid-March – that's the plan. There's a tremendous amount of work to do. Triple 8 Racing is working 24 hours a day at the moment to get everything ready.
We're certainly going to be there at the start of the season, but I want to do as much testing as possible before the first race.
How do you think the MG6 will compare with the other cars on the grid? Do you think all the right elements are there to be a winner?
The original car plays a key role in how good the chassis is going to be. We're confident that the basics are there with the MG6, all we've got to add now is all the tricky motor racing components and I'm confident we will be able to do so.
One thing that's for certain is we've got to win on the track, but what's more important is to win off the track. We have a fantastic array of big names on the car; to have MG and these new sponsors come in and invest is really exciting.
I suppose your job will be to develop the car as you go through the season then?
Absolutely, that's the expertise that I can bring to the team. I've driven for lots of manufacturers, I know what's a blind alley and what's not and so does the team.
Triple 8 Race Engineering know what they need to do to turn the MG6 into a race and championship-winning car.
So what is your goal for this season with MG?
Well, the immediate goal is to be competitive and that might seem defeatist, but the BTCC Championship is an incredibly competitive championship. If we are in the mix, that's our first goal, then we've got to win some races and ultimately the championship.
Even though we've got a three-year programme, we don't want to wait three years to do that. We're going to the first race with the belief that we are going to be competitive.
You are one of the most successful Touring Car drivers on the grid, how are you going about preparing for this season with the new team?
There's an awful lot going on behind the scenes with my motorsport. I'm a very busy guy, I run a successful marketing company, I present on TV, but I put a lot of effort into dovetailing all those activities to make the motorsport work.
We've got to turn up to the race looking right, conduct ourselves in the right way and be quick on the track. There's a lot to do, it is really exciting and I'm pretty confident we'll be right up there.
Which driver do you consider to be your biggest rival this coming season?
To be honest, at this stage of the game, they all are.
For tickets and more information, visit the BTCC website.