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Jason Plato: Subaru deal is a ‘game-changer’

Jason Plato has hailed Team BMR’s deal to run the Subaru L:evorg estate in the 2016 British Touring Car Championship as a ‘game-changer’ for the series, citing a number of benefits with the car’s unique boxster engine.

Plato was instrumental in putting the deal together for the team, which will see Subaru enter the BTCC for the first-ever time. It will also be the seventh different manufacturer that Plato has raced for in the BTCC, with the support once again being factory-backed.

Incredibly, Team BMR head into only their fourth season having already secured manufacturer backing in the BTCC, with Plato having always had securing factory support as one of his objectives with the squad.

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“Part of my remit when I first started speaking with Warren 18 months ago was to try and help get BMR in a position where we could become a works outfit with factory backing,” said Plato. “That was part of my role, to go and try and find a new manufacturer to work with.

“Subaru has been on my wish list for a long time. If you look at when the regulations changed to what they call NGTC, the technical package that Subaru can give us from a road car was the Holy Grail.

“It’s taken a little while to get the association working well and to partner with them, but we’re all massively excited. We’ve had a fantastic response from the dealer network, from their many fans, because let’s not forget that they’ve got an amazing heritage in motorsport. OK, it’s that muddy stuff, and now it’s time to move it into a different marketplace, if you like. We’re over the moon with our new partners.”

Plato believes that, once developed, the unique properties of the boxster engine will play to their advantage, even if he has to get used to racing a rear-wheel drive touring car for the first time in his BTCC career.

“We’ve got a technical package which we believe is a game-changer. Predominantly because of the layout of the engine – it’s half as long as a four-cylinder engine and it’s half as high, so weight distribution and the centre of gravity [is better]. We can do whatever we want.

“With a front-wheel drive car, because of the layout the engine has to sit ahead of the front axle, and even the BMW [engine] has to sit lengthways to the car. Ours is half the size and half as long, so we think that’s a game-changer.

“The other nice thing is that it will sound completely different to the others with that iconic boxster engine noise that we hear in rallying – we’re going to have that, and that’s great.

“Subaru as a brand has got a phenomenal following with a very passionate motorsport heritage and lots of fans, and we’re going to hope to tap into that. Certainly so far the engagement from the dealer network, even in 24 hours, has been phenomenal, so let’s not forget that this is about selling road cars. We hope that we’re there to help take Subaru on this journey and I think it’s going to be great for everybody.”

Team Principal Warren Scott added that it was the right time for the outfit to move away from the Volkswagen CC’s, having had no luck in securing backing from Volkswagen and with the change to new RML-designed NGTC components for 2016 onwards.

“The opportunity that Jason’s come up with in bringing Subaru to the table, made it the right time for us to change to new cars, especially with the new frames being brought in,” added Scott. “We can build a car designed for those new frames, to the new rules which we’ve got to run to for the next five years, so it’s a shame to see them [VWs] go but it was the right time.”

Scott also hinted at the possibility of running a fourth car, as in previous years, depending on how the build process goes over the next few months. TouringCars.Net understands that Áron Smith could drive the fourth car, although the Irishman is also exploring options outside the BTCC with the team.

“I will be racing again in the third car, and if time allows we’ll be putting a fourth out as well. It depends on how the build goes, because obviously we’ve got a fair task ahead of us, so we’ll see how we get on.”

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