2 SEPTEMBER 21 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2788
“It’s not over until the last race”
P4 Sebastian Vettel is taking no risks in Singapore
SHEDDEN TO MAKE BRITISH GT APPEARANCE
Honda’s BTCC star will get to sample Ferrari power
RALLY GB SET TO REMAIN ENTIRELY IN WALES
Rally head says it’s too late to change stage route
HONDA STARS DRAW LEVEL AS BTCC RIVALS CLASH
Shedden and Neal weather storm to take points lead
Historic race and rally news
Track Test:Nissan GT-R
SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 22 Insight:Escort vs Fiesta 23 BTCC report:Rockingham 24 Report:BTCC supports 26 Goodwood Revival report 27 Racing reports 28 Rally reports 30 Rallyday report 31 Sporting Scene round-up 32 Karting round-up 34 Letters/Comment/What’s On 36 Wanted:WWE-style referee for a showdown between Jason‘The Gaffer’ Plato and Matt‘The Hurricane’Neal
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Old rivals clash at Rockingham as tempers
ByMatt James Touring car star Matt Neal has promised to help his Honda team win this year’s British title at any cost after a controversial pit lane bust-up with main rival Jason Plato at Rockingham last weekend.
The old foes clashed on-track during the qualifying session on Saturday and then had to be pulled apart in a face-to-face skirmish after the session had finished.
Both drivers accused their rivals of ruining timed laps and the anger spilled over when they stepped from their cars. Neal went to punch Plato after the Chevrolet manhadmade gestures towards his opponent, but was held back. The two drivers were later fined for the outburst. After the clash on Saturday, Neal said: “Jason better look out from now on because I will be coming for him like a hurricane.
“I don’t care if I lose my licence – he can’t treat people like that. I have won this championship twice already andmy team-mate Gordon Shedden has a good chance. I don’t mind if Gordon wins it instead of me. Plato thinks he can get away with these things, but he can’t. I don’t want to fall out with anyone, but it is getting impossible.”
Around the block Neal and Plato, who have a long history of on-track spats, are both gunning for this year’s British Touring Car Championship title. Neal is the joint leader of the title race while Plato is desperate to make up ground after three costly accidents earlier in the season. He remains in third place, but needs to haul in the Hondas of Neal and Gordon Shedden.
Plato had set pole position for the opening round at Rockingham when the session was halted after a back marker crashed. The cars were then released for a final three-minute dash for times, and that is when the on-track incident occurred.
Furious Honda ace confronts Plato as the pair are held apart
Plato said that the Hondas had blocked him as he tried to get ahead on the out lap and made contact with Neal as he attempted to reach the front of the queue of cars. Neal said that Plato had ruined his subsequent lap by backing off the throttle in the middle of a hairpin during the drivers’ penultimate shot at grabbing the fastest time. Plato retained pole position when the chequered flag flew while Neal ended the session fourth fastest.
The drivers squared up to each other as soon as they had returned to the pit lane.
Seconds out Neal walked over to Plato after the Cruze driver hadmade a gesture towards him and a scuffle ensued.
“I was fed up because he had deliberately spoiled my lap,” said Neal afterwards. “Plato got out of his car and was taking the congratulations with all his team. Then he sawme andmade a rude gesture with his finger. It lit the blue touch paper and I went over to him and asked what he was doing. He told me to f**k off.” After a heated discussion, Neal feigned to punch Plato but was held
HOWTHE INCIDENT UNFOLDED 1537hrs: The qualifying session is restarted for a final three minutes after a red flag. Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal, whose Hondas are further down the pit lane, take to the track ahead of Jason Plato outside of him at Chapman. On the exit of the corner, Plato tries to pass a slow Shedden too but the Chevrolet and Neal, who is still alongside, make contact at the first left-handed part of Pif Paf
1538hrs:Plato battles to get ahead of the Hondas to give himself some clear track space, while Shedden and Neal are determined to maintain station. Plato gets a run on Neal and tries to drive around the
1539hrs: Plato is still ahead of Neal as he starts a final qualifying lap as the chequered flag falls. As they get to the first hairpin, Plato locks up. As he exits the corner Neal cannons into the back of the Cruze
1542hrs: Plato and Neal arrive back in the pit lane and park outside their respective garages. As Plato steps from his car, there is a gesture made between the two drivers. Neal storms over to Plato and shouts at his rival and feigns to throw a punch. Neal is held back by Plato’s father Tim Plato. As Neal walks away, more gestures are made
1545hrs: The incident is referred to the stewards of the meeting
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