MOTORSPORT: Swindon biker teams up with legend Plato
6:00am Thursday 6th September 2012 in By Ned Payne
SWINDON motorcycle ace Jack Groves is to be mentored by British touring car king Jason Plato in 2012 after earning selection to the KX Akademy.
The Swansea Metropolitan University student, who competes in the Metzeler National Superstock 600 Championship, is one of three motorsport racers that will be supported by the Oxford-born double BTCC champion.
Joined in the KX Akademy by Stefan Hodgetts (AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup) and Tom Ingram (Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup), Groves says he will be hugely boosted by Plato’s involvement.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity for me. I’ve never had the chance to race a whole season and that’s been critical in my ability to seek new sponsors,” said Groves.
“It’s like a vicious circle but this is the chance I’ve needed and I’m going to give it everything.
“Having Jason mentoring me is a great opportunity as his knowledge within the motorsport paddock is great.
“This is something money can’t buy and I’ll be taking down notes, learning as much as I can from him to become a professional motorcycle racer.“ Plato’s specialism may lie in four wheels rather than two but he believes he can give Groves valuable input as he aims to progress his charge.
“I’m not a rider, but many of the skills you need to be a success in motor racing aren’t unique to my sport,” said Plato.
“Jack has a great attitude when it come seizing those opportunities that are so rare these days.
“I’m looking forward to helping him get on the road to what could be a great career.”
Meanwhile, Groves began his tenure at new team Gearlink Kawasaki recently and he recorded a 14th-placed points finish at Cadwell Park in the Metzeler National Superstock 600 Championship.
The feat was all the more impressive considering the qualified fitness instructor had not taken to the track at Cadwell Park since 2009.
Qualifying one was delayed by over an hour due to flooding and hail, and having never ridden the ZX6R at all before, let alone in wet conditions, Groves was understandably nervous.
But with the suspension softened, he took to the track and realised the bike had plenty of grip.
Groves’ lap times were getting faster and faster, but when the flag came out, he was placed 27th on the grid.
Qualifying two was contested on a dry track, meaning the Wiltshire rider had to find a new setup to work in those conditions.
Three dives into the pits during the session worked wonders and the motorcycle engineering student’s times were improving, and late on he managed to jump up to 22nd on the grid.
Starting on row eight, he made the dream start as he passed six riders on the first lap by taking a non-standard racing line through turns one and two.
Groves was battling with Tommy Dale, who he has been a stand-in rider for this season, and although the race was stopped early, Groves was happy with his finishing position.
He is next in action at Donington on the weekend beginning Friday, September 7. After that the remaining rounds of the championship will be contested at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.