Oxford’s Jason Plato was left to rue a missed opportunity after seeing his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title chances suffer a huge blow at Knockhill.

Plato travelled to the Scottish circuit in third place ten points adrift of leader Matt Neal, and with high hopes of not just closing the gap, but taking over at the top.

His optimisim increased as he secured pole position for race one after setting the fastest time in qualifying in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6.

But he crashed out of the opening race after a tangle with Aron Smith’s Redstone Racing Ford Focus, leaving the way clear for Robert Collard and Tom Onslow-Cole to finish first and second in their WSR-prepared eBay Motors BMWs.

Gordon Shedden took third in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic, while teammate Neal was a lowly seventh.

Plato was then only 11th in race two as his car struggled with turbo-related problems, as Collard led home a repeat of the top three from race one.

It got worse for Plato as he failed to make it on to the grid for race three with his car’s problems persisting.

Dave Newsham took victory in his Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra ahead of Jeff Smith, who posted his first podium result in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic, with Neal third.

Plato remains third in the standings, but the gap to Neal is now 36 points.

He reflected: “It’s an opportunity for us to take more points out of the Honda drivers and even take the championship lead gone begging. “We’ve clearly got the performance – we’ve just had rotten luck, but it’s certainly not over yet.”

Standings (top ten): 1 M Neal 287pts, 2 G Shedden 277, 3 J Plato 251, 4 A Jordan 247, 5 R Collard 228, 6 T Onslow-Cole 209, 7 M Jackson 187, 8 D Newsham 146, 9 J Smith 121, 10 F Wrathall 118.