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Feature: Subaru could yet decide the destiny of this years title…

Oulton Park saw a watershed moment for Silverline Subaru BMR Racing as the defending quadruple champions scored their first ever victory in their new guise and put themselves firmly back in the story of this years British Touring Car Championship.

Colin Turkington claimed the first victory for a Subaru model in the history of the championship in the opening race of the weekend around the 2.2 mile Cheshire circuit, before cementing the car’s form with the runner-up spot in race two. Turkington’s team-mate, Jason Plato, also impressed as he claimed a hat-trick of third place finishes in a fascinating display from the Buntingford-based outfit.

Having been forced to withdraw from Thruxton on safety grounds as a fuel line problem that had previously resulted in a fire for James Cole at Donington Park showed signs of wear in it’s redesigned form, the team conducted a two-day test in both extremes of weather condition at Pembrey in south-west Wales before making the trip to Oulton Park.

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The fruits of several weeks of development means that Silverline Subaru BMR Racing are now firmly back in the narrative of this seasons plot line.

“Oulton Park was the moment we’ve all been waiting on and worked so hard for,” commented Turkington, twice a series champion in rear-wheel drive machinery.

“The true potential of the Subaru Levorg finally came to the fore and it was a weekend none of us will forget in a hurry.  I’m so pleased for everyone involved and I hope in some small way this repays the incredible efforts over the past five months.”

“It was a special feeling to make history and deliver the maiden win for Subaru in the BTCC and in truth it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

Jason Plato, whose trio of third-place finishes instantly lifted him to 14th overall in the championship standings, echoed his team-mates sentiments.

“What a fantastic weekend for everyone at Silverline Subaru BMR Racing,” said Plato. “We should be enormously proud of our successes at Oulton Park.  We really have arrived in some style.”

However the questions thrown up by the newfound form of the Levorg GT are equally as fascinating as the car’s groundbreaking performances at Oulton Park.

Twelve races have now elapsed of this years series, with a total of nine different drivers in six different makes of car taking to the top step of the podium in the opening four rounds.

As a result of their focus on development during the meetings at Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Thruxton, the team now head to the next round at Croft, traditionally a strong circuit for those in rear-wheel drive machinery, with no success ballast on board and an 82 and 90 point deficit to make up to standings leader Sam Tordoff for both Turkington and Plato respectively.

Whilst on paper that total seems almost insurmountable at a glance, there are several reasons why neither of these double winners should be discounted from the traditional Brands Hatch GP showdown just yet, especially considering drivers can pick up a maximum of 22 points per race win. That leaves a total of nearly 400 points still on the table for the perfect competitor.

The lack of ballast is very likely to hand Subaru and their chargers a strong advantage in qualifying, something absolutely crucial to success in the BTCC. Placing ahead or on a par with their main rivals provides Plato and Turkington with every opportunity to score strongly at every venue, especially at circuits where their rivals may be less suited to the track or conditions.

Upcoming venues such as Croft, Snetterton and Knockhill are likely to provide the duo with the opportunity to catch up in the standings before the three meeting sprint to the line at Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands, all of which are circuits that should suit the Subaru as a model and have heralded success for both Plato and Turkington in the not so distant past. Even in the event they take on ballast at this late stage in the season, it would be difficult to argue against the case for them to push on regardless and give those in front a real headache in the closing stages of the season.

Let us also not forget the faith that Plato has re-iterated in the project time and again, regarding the Levorg GT as a groundbreaking moment in the BTCC under it’s NGTC regulations. To have brought Subaru into the series and correctly predicted the car would come good at Oulton Park suggests, as if there was ever any reasonable doubt, that Plato has a grasp of what he is talking about. On that basis, it seems foolish to dismiss out of hand the possibility that we are on the cusp of seeing a very interesting conclusion to this campaign.

It would be equally foolish to dismiss the works Honda outfit, the fast-charging WSR trio as well as several strong drivers such as Josh Cook, Ashley Sutton, Tom Ingram and the Motorbase duo of Jackson and Jordan but there can be no doubt from hereon in we are set for one of the most interesting seasons in recent times in the UK’s premier tin-top championship.

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