The Woodhall Spa rider was running well all weekend and posted a strong qualifying time to claim a front row start to Sunday’s penultimate race.
“That is a much better starting position than Croft,” said Plater. “I wanted to make it onto the front two rows and I did manage to get a good lap in and take third on the front row, but just as I was about to try to better that, someone blew an engine which left some kind of fluid on the track causing the session to be red flagged. That put paid to the session as the track was so slippery at the restart and because the sun was so bright I couldn’t actually see where the problem was and wasn’t prepared to risk a crash and ruin my championship hopes. But the bike is working well and I am feeling positive so I will go into the race and see where I end up.”
As the 18-lap affair got underway Plater moved up into second place but was knocked back to fifth in the first lap battle for position. He regrouped and made his way back through to third on lap five and sat on the back wheel of McConnell throughout the remainder of the race, biding his time and watching to see which was the best place for him to make a pass.
On lap 15, Plater made his move at the chicane and made it stick. But McConnell was not going to let him get away and the pair disputed the position to the final corner when McConnell made a desperate attempt to pass and the pair clashed, Plater was pushed wide onto the grass but was able to remain in control to bring the HM Plant Honda across the line in third place. But race control decided McConnell had taken an unfair advantage and reversed the finishing positions to give Plater the second place that he deserved.
“I realised after qualifying and especially morning warm-up that James Westmoreland was going to be on winning pace and hard to beat so I wasn’t too worried about where he finished,” said Plater. “I was more concerned about myself and Billy (McConnell) as the title race is between us two. It was a good race; I followed Billy for a long way and then made my move on him at the chicane with three laps to go.
“I tried to get my head down and pull away but Billy was faster in some places and stuck with me, and then we had a bit of a coming together on the last lap but I managed to get second and extend my lead.”
Plater goes into the final round at Oulton Park on October 11 with an 11 point advantage over McConnell and just needs to follow his rival around the track in the championship decider to get his hands on the trophy that has eluded him for the last 11 years. But McConnell will not be making it easy for the Lincolnshire star as he too is eager to win the title for himself.
Pic credit – Turn One Photography