Jason Plato was born in Oxford, and was educated on Tyneside, at The King's School, Tynemouth. Following an interest in karting, in 1990 Plato began racing in Formula 3, Formula Renault UK, and Formula Renault Euroseries, which he won in 1991. He next appeared on race circuits in 1996, when he took part in the one-make Renault Spider Championship, which he won in his début season. This link with Renault led to him being considered for a drive in the British Touring Car Championship with Williams Renault. His rivals were both ex-F1 stars, and Frank Williams later admitted to Jason after testing that because of the star nature of his rivals he never really stood a chance. Plato didn't take this and convinced Frank Williams to let him have a chance, and a shootout was set up, with the drive going to the fastest driver. Plato won.
This led to a drive in the new Williams Renault Laguna, which Plato drove to 3rd in the championship, taking pole on his first three races. He never bettered the third place, and finished 5th in the following two seasons at Renault, before he moved to Vauxhall Motorsport for the 2000 season. In his first season at Vauxhall he again took 5th, but with new rules in the championship for 2001 and a dominant new Astra Coupe he took the first of his BTCC championships after team mate and championship rival Yvan Muller's car caught fire at the last round.
With aspirations to drive in NASCAR Plato moved to the British ASCAR series for 2002, where he raced against, amongst others, Ben Collins who he would later work with on Fifth Gear. In 2003 he was left without a drive and worked for SEAT Sport UK as a driver coach, which began his six year link with SEAT. He raced for them in the BTCC in each season from 2004 to 2009, where his best finish was 2nd in the championship which he achieved in 2006 and 2007. He also competed for SEAT Sport in the WTCC at four rounds during 2005.
In 2006 he married Sophie, with whom he has two daughters. Sophie was by his side as he recovered from burns sustained during an incident with a Caparo T1 during a segment being filmed for Fifth Gear when the car caught fire at an estimated 160mph. Despite his injuries he was able to race at the final weekend of the BTCC championship the following weekend.
When SEAT pulled out of the BTCC at the end of 2008 he was left without a drive, and rumors suggested he was going to take a sabbatical from racing to concentrate on his TV work and his marketing company. However, following talks with two teams Plato returned to the championship in a privateer entry, before Chevrolet became a full manufacturer entry the following season. In 2010 Plato won the second of his BTCC championships. He also holds the record for most wins in the BTCC.
In 2011 Plato was elected to the Board of Directors at the British Racing Drivers' Club, and he has used this position to help make it easier for younger drivers to network and find sponsorship opportunities. He also moved to the newly set up MG KX Momentum racing team, driving the 99 car as part of his sponsorship package with Tesco.
A qualified pilot he used to utilize a Piper Malibu to fly between his racing obligations and his former home in Monaco. Nowadays he is often seen using a helicopter for travel to race circuits; as a brand ambassador for WestlandAgusta he has access to a number of potential vehicles. His road transport is usually a Porsche, from whom he has bought a 911 Turbo and a Panamera, which are easy to spot with Plato's personalized numberplate.
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