Jason Plato has been hurt in an incident during filming for the Channel 5 Fifth Gear programme.

SEAT Sport UK’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship driver was testing a road-going Caparo T1 supercar at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground near Lutterworth in Leicestershire when it burst into flames at an estimated 150mph. The car has a maximum top speed of 200mph.

Jason was taken by private car to the nearest accident and emergency facility at the Market Harborough and District Hospital. After initial treatment he was transferred by ambulance to Kettering General Hospital. Following further treatment there, he was transferred by ambulance to the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he received treatment in the specialist burns unit. He was released later the same evening and spent the night resting at home in Oxfordshire, before seeing a burns specialist again this morning.

Jason has received burns to both hands (the right hand being more badly injured), his face and the back of the neck. He has vowed to race at this weekend’s final BTCC race meeting at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on Sunday 14th October, which is also his 40th birthday. Jason, who races a SEAT Leon, goes into the final three races of the season leading the BTCC Drivers’ category, nine points ahead of Italy’s Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall).

Jason said: “We were testing the Caparo T1 for Fifth Gear, and we took it to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, a private testing facility, which is common practice. There was a slight loss of power, I looked in the mirror and saw some smoke, there was a slight smell of oil and then suddenly there was this intense heat. The car spontaneously erupted into a ball of flame and I was sat in the middle of a fireball. I hit the brakes, brought the car to a stop as quickly as I could and jumped out.

“We found the nearest hospital on our sat nav and Phil Bennett [former BTCC racing driver who was at the test] took me to the local A&E. I would very much like to thank Phil, all the staff at Market Harborough and District Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital for all the excellent care and treatment they so quickly administered.

“The back of my neck is burnt and so are my face and hands. I obviously couldn’t take my hands off the steering wheel whilst braking and my right hand is more badly burnt than my left. I’ll have to dig deep, but I’m still looking forward to the BTCC finale this weekend. It’s been a hard-fought season and I’ve led the Drivers’ Championship almost unbroken since winning the opening round, so this isn’t going to stop me winning the title on Sunday.”

Published : 09/10/07 Author : Melanie Carter


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