The story of Subaru’s first year in the British Touring Car Championship plays like something from one of those cheesy Hollywood films. Something new comes to battle in a well established arena and, right from the start it looks hopeless. But the heroes of the tale work hard and battle on, taking the villains of the film down the wire in a final epic battle.
Ok, the main story board is the same, but Subaru’s baptism of fire in the BTCC probably has some aspects that wouldn’t make it into the “underdog-turned-winner” Hollywood film.
Subaru coming into the BTCC has been the project of Jason Plato for a while now (I don’t think it unfair to say that Plato does not really fit the “underdog” characteristics Hollywood would be looking for in their hero). It was with great excitement and high expectations that the manufacturer was announced to be joining the championship.
The performance in their opening weekend fell short of that though. In fact, in the first three weekends, the BMR team were so plagued with problems that they pulled out of the races at Thruxton. At this point, there had only been three points finishes between the four drivers, with tenth the highest anybody had managed to achieve.
So the team went back to the drawing board and came back fighting at Oulton Park. Colin Turkington started the weekend by taking Subaru’s first pole position in the championship on the Saturday, then went ahead and took the first win in the first race on Sunday.
In the imaginary film that would follow Subaru’s first season in the championship, Hollywood would probably decide that it might be a more satisfying storyline if Plato were to take the first win (I’m sure he would agree with this). Failing that, they may wish to turn Plato into that “teacher” stereotype that guides our hero to victory.
Once again, Plato doesn’t really fit these characteristics.
Whilst Turkington took the first win, Plato wasn’t going to let him take all the glory, and began a string of podiums that lasted five races. Despite not taking a win until Knockhill, nine races after Turkington took his first win, Plato kept the pressure on his team mate.
The two scored enough points so that, going into the final round of the season, they were still in the championship contention. Both Turkington and Plato only had an outside chance at the title but, if you had told that to anybody at Thruxton when the team pulled out for fear of exploding engines, they probably would have laughed at you.
But where of the other two drivers? A Hollywood film might decide to just cut Warren Scott and James Cole out of the picture all together. The two enjoyed battles at the back of the field and various trips into the gravel, but they were rarely fighting for points or in one of the many attention grabbing battles we saw this season.
Despite two wins in the final round at Brands Hatch, Colin Turkington couldn’t keep up with the championship battle, a matter not helped at all by his team mate. No, Plato definitely didn’t want to help “guide the hero to victory”. By the second race, Plato was already out of the championship battle, but still he pushed Turkington, trying to find a way past and into the lead of the race until the radio message came to leave his team mate alone.
Turkington ended the championship fourth, with Plato back in seventh. Cole would take twenty fifth with four points finishes, and Scott twenty seventh with only one.
Photo credit: Caroline Rhea