MG officially back in motorsport

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MG officially back in motorsport

Post  Pauly on 25/1/2012, 10:54 am

MG back in BTCC officially with 888 Race Engineering and Jason Plato... could be a good combo! Very Happy

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/97167

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Re: MG officially back in motorsport

Post  greenmgf76 on 26/1/2012, 2:41 am

Video press release: http://m.youtube.com/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhbV97O461lk%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&feature=youtu.be&v=hbV97O461lk&gl=AU
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Re: MG officially back in motorsport

Post  greenmgf76 on 26/1/2012, 11:20 pm

Plato's new dawn with MG
With Jason Plato having confirmed his attack on the BTCC with the Triple Eight-run MG squad, Kevin Turner asks whether the 68-time race-winner can dethrone his nemesis Matt Neal and claim a third title in 2012

By Kevin Turner
AUTOSPORT features editor

Jason Plato Andy Neate MG BTCC 2012

MG-Triple Eight-Jason Plato. Sounds like a pretty promising combination for the British Touring Car Championship, doesn't it? The Chinese-owned firm will push hard to re-establish the marque in the UK; it just seems right to have Triple Eight involved in a works programme; and Plato will get his hands on a turbocharged engine after all the equalisation controversy of 2011.

It's difficult to know exactly what the team is capable of in the short-term. There isn't much time left before the Brands Hatch opener on April 1 to build the cars, let alone get them out testing. And there's also the TOCA engine that the MGs will use in 2012. Last year the Swindon-built unit proved solid, but was gradually left behind by the Neil Brown-prepared turbos in the Hondas and the Mountune engines in the Fords.

But few are in any doubt about the longer-term prospects. Plato has already said he expects race wins in the first year and, with his and Triple Eight's record, it's easy to see that happening. It's also worth remembering that the teams that ran NGTC cars last year – and which therefore have a headstart – have less overall BTCC experience and fewer resources than the MG KX Momentum Racing team (as it will be officially known). They will be caught quickly.
JAson Plato BTCC Vauxhall Knockhill 2001
Plato won the 2001 title in works Vauxhall run by Triple Eight... © LAT

Obviously there are no question marks when it comes to the lead driver either. Plato, who will be joined by Andy Neate at the team, can be relied upon to get the best out of the car when it isn't quite there, and delivering race wins when it is.

Nevertheless, Honda, which is more advanced with its NGTC Civic, remains the favourite for this season. It's just great for the series that there will be another manufacturer-backed outfit to keep Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden on their toes.

Series boss Alan Gow is understandably pleased to see the MG name back. It will surely draw yet more fans into the BTCC, which had increasing grid, TV, and spectator figures last year.

It's also a boost for Gow's NGTC regulations. The jury is still out on whether it is actually cheaper than the outgoing S2000 rules, as intended, but there's no doubt it is proving attractive to teams. Gow reckons that at least 50 per cent of the grid this season will be full NGTC machines.

But what of RML and Chevrolet? Plato scored 22 wins with RML-run Lacettis and Cruzes between 2009-2011 (the Cruzes being works-badged) and secured his second BTCC crown. Many expected him to continue and his move leaves a vacuum.

Rumour has it that WTCC conqueror RML will be back, despite being understandably perturbed with the normally-aspirated/turbo situation last year, with an NGTC machine.
Jason Plato Chevrolet Brands Hatch BTCC 2011
... and has returned to the team after three years in RML-run Chevrolets © LAT

That leaves the question of who can lead the squad's attack. Alex MacDowall, not yet confirmed though likely to stay, has shown flashes of speed over the past couple of years, but it's a bit of a step to imagine him as a title contender with the likes of Plato, Neal and Shedden, especially as he hasn't won a race yet. So who else?

There are, of course, a few 2011 BTCC drivers who have not yet confirmed deals, like Tom Onslow-Cole. And of the people not committed to full seasons anywhere, former BTCC champions James Thompson and Fabrizio Giovanardi would each be very welcome returnees, and good enough to run at the front straight away.

Let's hope RML does find a genuine top-drawer tin-top ace, so it too can mix it in a British Touring Car Championship that's looking increasingly strong for 2012.
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