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Plato will lead the MG charge.

JASON Plato will spearhead MG's assault in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship as the UK manufacturer makes its return to the series, writes ZOE BURN.

Plato and his new team-mate, rising star Andy Neate, will pilot a pair of MG6GT machines, built to BTCC's turbocharged Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) regulations.

The outfit will receive full official factory-backing and the cars will be prepared by Triple Eight Race Engineering, one of the most successful constructors in the championship. "It's really exciting to be involved in a brand new all-British team and it's just brilliant that the iconic MG name will be back on the track," he said.

Plato won his first BTCC title in 2001 while driving the Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra, and took his second almost a decade later in 2010 in the Silverline Chevrolet Cruze.

But his hopes of retaining his crown were dealt a blow in 2011 when the Tyneside-educated star hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

He became no stranger to controversy as he hit out on numerous occasions about how he was always at a disadvantage in his traditionalspec Chevrolet.

But this year will see him on an equal playing field when the season gets under way at Brands Hatch in April.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't but I love it", Plato said. "I am looking forward to having many more dust-ups with those two Honda reprobates."

Plato's arrival in the MG camp makes him the second north driver to be associated with the marque.

In 2001 Sunderland's Warren Hughes entered the BTCC with the MG Sport works team, remaining with the squad for three years and notching up three wins and a number of podiums in the MG ZS. MG pulled the plug at the end of 2003, but since then the championship has rocketed in popularity. It now enjoys up to eight hours of live TV each round and has an increased trackside attendance, which MG hopes will help promote its brand, with Plato at the helm to push the new MG6 GT model.

Guy Jones, MG Motor's sales and marketing director, said: "We are delighted that the new MG6 will be seen by millions of fans in Britain and beyond and this continues the famous sporting lineage of the brand."

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TOP PAIR Jason Plato and MG team-mate Andy Neate
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2012
Words:393
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