Vauxhall Astra Coupes on top at Oulton testing
Jason Plato led the times at Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire during Wednesday's official British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) test session - the final test before racing begins in earnest at Brands Hatch in Kent on Easter Monday (April 16). Four Vauxhall Astra Coupes filled the top four places at the test, with Plato followed closely by his Vauxhall Motorsport team-mate, Yvan Muller, while James Thompson driving the Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe took third place just ahead of his team-mate, touring car newcomer, Phil Bennett.
Vauxhall Motorsport's team manager, Derek Warwick said: "This was our first real day of testing with most of the other teams joining us at Oulton Park. We have been able to look at the suspension fairly closely today, in particular shock absorber settings and roll-bar settings. Reliability and speed have both been good - we're looking forward to the first race at Brands."
Both of the Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupes were out on the track for most of the day which was split into a morning and afternoon session - the morning on a wet but drying track, which dried up completely for the afternoon.
"We have had a good day," said Jason Plato after setting fastest time in each session. "We have tried lots of different suspension settings with some meaningful results. I'm upbeat about the Astra Coupe - roll on Brands!"
Frenchman Yvan Muller spent some time in the pits during the afternoon after an off-track excursion early in the session. "I went off the track as if I was ice racing," said Muller. "The team had to change the radiator as a consequence and that cut down my running time, so I couldn't learn much today, but what I did learn makes me certain about a few good things on the car - my only regret was not having time to try the car on completely new tyres during the afternoon."
<pre> Oulton Park BTCC testing (Wednesday, April 4) - overall times:
1 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1m 29.167s 2 Yvan Muller (F) Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:29.325 3 James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:30.963 4 Phil Bennett Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:32.551 5 Matt Neal Peugeot 406 Coupe 1:32.839 6 Simon Harrison Peugeot 306 1:33.488