Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Two poles in a row for Plato
For the second consecutive meeting in a row Silverline Chevrolet’s Jason Plato has taken pole position and will lead the 29 car strong grid for round 25 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car championship around the legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Following the latest Turbo reduction decrease at Rockingham, Plato has taken two consecutive pole positions on the bounce and has clawed his way back into the championship battle and will start the first of three races 23points behind the Honda duo. Plato took the top spot in the unusual for October siring temperatures and said after qualifying, “I am very pleased with that lap – my car’s set-up was absolutely perfect and I could attack all the way. Hopefully it’ll be as hot again tomorrow which could sap the turbo cars like the Hondas of a bit of power… catching them is a big task, but this is the best way to go about it.”
My car’s set-up was absolutely perfect.
Joining Plato on the front row will be Pirtek Racing driver Andrew Jordan. Jordan started there for round 1 of the championship at Brands Hatch around the Indy circuit and started the season fantastically which included a run of 5 podiums in a row. However in recent events it hasn’t gone Jordan’s way and he hopes to get back on the podium for the first time since round 15 and said, “We knew this would be a good circuit for the Vectra but, even though I put in a couple of good laps, I’m still quite surprised to be second. I’ve got nothing to lose now – I’ve not really got a championship to think about so I’m going all out for big results.”
Putting in a stunning last lap with the chequered flag already out to qualify 3rd was race 3 winner from Rockingham and current Independent points leader was James Nash for Triple 8 Racing. This is the joint highest qualifying position of Nash repeating his Donington Park performance an event in where he went on to take 3 podium finishes and he hopes to reiterate this and said afterwards, “The last time I was this high up was Donington Park back in April and I had a great day there. Hopefully it can be the same tomorrow. I don’t see any reason to change my approach just because I’m ahead in the Independents table – it’s still all about as many points as possible.”
Alex MacDowall will start 4th in the second Silverline Chevrolet and he will hope to put a run of recent bad luck behind him and he will start ahead of the two Honda drivers, who sit joint top of the standings with Gordon Shedden despite a trip through the gravel at the first corner Paddock Hill bend will start ahead of team mate Matt Neal.
In 7th will be Mat Jackson for Airwaves Racing. Jackson will be hoping to get his season back on track where he has taken just 1 point in 6 races which was for a fastest lap and has seen him lose the lead in both the drivers and Independent championship. Paul O’Neill will be hoping to continue his good form from Rockingham where he took a second in his Go-Mobile with Tech-speed Chevrolet Cruze and he will start 8th ahead of two ‘Global’ Ford Focus’ belonging to Tom Onslow-Cole and Tom Chilton for Team Aon.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was Daniel Welch who qualified 11th in his Proton Gen-2 belonging to Welch Motorsport to qualify as lead New Generation Touring Car. While BTCC debutant Ollie Jackson for Triple 8 put in a faultless display all day to finish an encouraging 15th with other BTCC debutant 17 year old Chris Swanwick kept his nose clean and will start 27th in a second Rob Austin Racing Audi A4.
The session was interrupted by two red flags, the first was after a rather scary moment for ES Racing driver Chris James when he lost a wheel approaching Hawthorne bend in 5th gear although thankfully this did not result in a series accident but will start from last as a result. The second was for Frank Wrathall in his DynoJet Toyota Avensis after he spun off at the final corner Clearways. Wrathall has been on fantastic form since the second half of the season however the reigning Ginetta champion had a day to forget after he had also earlier brought Free Practice 1 to a halt after he went off at Sheene Kerb through the gravel and making contact with the barriers. As a result of this second off he has qualified a disappointing 14th position.
So that’s how the main challenges qualified at Brands Hatch. With 29 cars taking to the grid many thrills n spills are guaranteed. So to find out who will lead the championship heading into the final meeting of the year and for all other reaction following the days 3 races be sure to return to Motorsport.com for full report and photos.