Jason Plato, the most successful driver in British Touring Car Championship history, faces spending the 2020 season on the sidelines.
Official Vauxhall team Power Maxed Racing, for which Plato was set to drive for a second season, will not contest the full campaign, and both Plato and Mat Jackson have been released.
PMR remains committed to a full 2021 season, for which Plato is already confirmed and Jackson has what the team describes as a ‘first option to continue’.
But for now it means that 97-time race winner and two-time champion Plato will not be in action when the 2020 campaign off at Donington Park on August 1-2.
It will mark the first time the 52-year-old will not be on the BTCC grid since 2003.
Jackson, meanwhile, was set for his return to the BTCC in 2020 after two years on the sidelines following his split with Motorbase Performance in the build-up to the 2018 season.
PMR boss Adam Weaver said: “Obviously taking this decision was not easy, but ourselves and our commercial partners felt that overall it’s the right thing for us to do in order to preserve our resources for next year.
“But I want to clarify that this is in no way us ‘giving up’. We are simply hitting the pause button on these agreements. It means that we’ve got even more time to develop the Astras and will come out of the blocks fighting next March!”
Jason Plato, Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Plato added: “I genuinely believe this is the right decision for us as a team, and all of our loyal partners.
“It may not be what people want to hear, and we are all gutted to not be racing as we had planned, but the really important thing is to make sure we are in a position to race again in ’21 and for many years beyond, and this was the best way for us all to guarantee that.”
PMR does plan to field its Vauxhall Astras on an independent basis in some races this season.
The team has said that this is part of a plan to ‘showcase and develop young motorsport talent’ and give ‘surprise guest outings to some well-known touring car stars who weren’t able to commit to a full season due to various other commitments’.
The news comes one week after 2019 BTCC runner-up Andrew Jordan parted ways with the West Surrey Racing-run BMW squad.