Critical weekend for the main contenders

While the destination of the British Touring Car Championship crown will not be decided at Snetterton this weekend it will prove critical for all three contenders.

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While the destination of the British Touring Car Championship crown will not be decided at Snetterton this weekend it will prove critical for all three contenders.

Currently Seat Leon racer Jason Plato holds a 25-point advantage over Fabrizio Giovanardi and his Vauxhall Vectra while reigning champion, Honda Civic racer Matt Neal, needs a stellar Sunday if he is not to see his hopes fade on the long Snetterton straights.

Plato's lead is courtesy of a pair of wins in the previous round at Donington Park enhanced by the Vecta's windscreen wiper packing up and restricting his rivals view of the soaking wet Leicestershire track.

As a double winner last year at the Norfolk track Plato holds a strong hand and a repeat will enable him to use defensive tactics in the remaining races to ensure he takes the title.

For Giovanardi he must attack in all three races in an effort to close down Plato's advantage but it's a tall order for the Vectra racer who looked uncomfortable on his first acquaintance with the fast Norfolk track last year.

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It's a make or break weekend for Neal who needs three podium places plus both of his rivals to trip up to bring him back into contention. A tall order, but not impossible in the topsy-turvy world of touring car racing.

Plato's hand is strengthen as team mate Darren Turner is capable of stealing points away from Giovanardi while the second Vauxhall racer, Tom Chilton, has found the going much tougher.

The Snetterton layout of slow corners leading onto to high speed straights may give the rear wheel drive BMW teams a favourable edge, thickening the mixture further.

It could lead to Colin Turkington and Tom Onslow-Cole in their RAC supported BMW's finding the winning touch. Turkington has won twice before this season but victory in front of the Norwich based event sponsor would be highly pleasing.

Matt Jackson in his privately run BMW has shown a well organised small outfit can, at times, match the bigger teams with a victory at Oulton Park and he could spring more surprises at Snetterton.

In the Independents Trophy Mike Jordan is 'Mr Consistence' and holds a 23 point advantage over Jackson with Turkington a further three behind.

While their battle is not as high profile as the outright title all three are still hungry to be crowned king. The BMW mounted Jackson and Turkington should have an edge this weekend and be able to close in on Jordan's Honda Integra making for an intriguing final three rounds.