Jason Plato will line up on pole position for round 19 of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill for the second consecutive meeting. Plato has won a previous six times at the Fife circuit and admits he may have to take his...
Jason Plato will line up on pole position for round 19 of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill for the second consecutive meeting. Plato has won a previous six times at the Fife circuit and admits he may have to take his chances if he is to continue in the title challenge; but admits he faces three tough races ahead of him tomorrow by saying, "I've said before it's win or bust from now on. It's my only way back and even then it requires the others to make a bit of a mess of it. While it's still possible I'll never give up, but I expect three very hard races tomorrow."
Lining up behind Plato are the two local drivers, which will certainly draw in extra crowds to cheer them on. In second place in only his second event for the team will be Gordon Shedden for Cartridge world in their sole Seat Leon this weekend; meaning no Adam Jones after an apparent mechanical problem during a shake down which couldn't be resolved in time therefore forcing his absence. This will be the teams first front row start and Shedden said, "It's a great result - we're a one-car team this weekend and to be second to Jason Plato and the might and experience of the RML team that runs his car is no disgrace."
In third place will be the other local hero, Jonny Adam, who has put in his best qualifying position to date. Adam who has shown good pace recently but only has podium positions all season admitted he could possibly have been faster but hopes rear-wheel drive will pay off for him at the start. He is just hoping for three good races and said, "I'm pretty happy with that, but maybe it could have been better had I not gone of the road early in the session. Whether I can make the BMW's rear-wheel-drive pay off the start I don't know - it's pretty narrow here and the run to the first corner is quite short. I just want three good races."
Lining up in fourth is another driver who claims Knockhill as his local circuit; Colin Turkington went to university at Stirling. Turkington was very happy with the car and his qualifying performance considering he had full ballast and said, "I'm very happy with the car and in the first two practice sessions and then again there in qualifying we kept finding more time with nearly every lap. Fourth is probably as good as I could have managed with the ballast so I'm feeling grand with that."
He was even more delighted that his main title challenger Fabrizio Giovanardi could only manage a very disappointing 11th and, although he admitted that this was a big help for him, he wasn't getting to carried away and finished by saying "Fabrizio back there is also good for me of course, but let's just see how it all pans out tomorrow. He's shown before he's a master at picking up places and points when it's not gone so well for him in qualifying so I'm sure he'll be coming through at some stage tomorrow. It's up to me to capitalise as best I can while the going is good."
In fifth will be Rob Collard who will be very pleased with his grid position considering his recent poor qualifying form and his huge accident at Snetterton, which the team have worked around the clock to make the car look as immaculate as ever. Lining up alongside Collard will be Mat Jackson in the second Team Silverline Chevrolet Lacetti. Jackson had also topped the mornings first free practice session, which took part in very wet conditions.
On the fourth row of the grid will be a pair of Vauxhall's, with Matt Neal who hopes to get his title challenge back on track lining up alongside his younger team mate Andrew Jordan.
Stephen Jelley will line up ninth after recovering from problems during free practice 2. Alongside side him, fresh from his emotional podium at Snetteron, will be Paul O'Neill. O'Neill, however, unfortunately spun in the gravel in the first half of the session straight after setting provisional pole position time at that stage.
As mentioned 11th will be a disappointed Giovanardi who lines up alongside Tom Chilton in the once again sole Team Aon Ford Focus. Chilton might be slightly disappointed with only 12th after running well in both morning practices particularly the first session held in wet conditions.
Yet another disappointed driver will line up in 13th, James Thompson in his last BTCC outing of the year. Thompson will miss the rest of the season due to his many other racing commitments. It was confirmed this week, however, that standing in his place will be ex-Formula One race winner Jonny Herbert. Harry Vaulkhard couldn't continue his recent good qualifying performances and will line up 14th just ahead of Dave Pinkney in the other Team Dynamics Honda Civic.
The last row of the grid will be made up of John George and Martin Johnson in his Astra Coupe fresh from scoring a point last time out.
While missing out again will be Martyn Bell after his accident while on holiday, although he admitted he hopes to be back for Silverstone, and more noteably James Nash. Nash won on the road last time out at Snetterton only to be disqualified after the race. He had hoped to continue in this form but sadly misses out due to lack of funding.
Nash said, "I am disappointed to be missing Knockhill, but unfortunately funding is limited so we had to take the tough decision," but admits he and the team are doing all they can do find the finance available to finish the season and went on to say "We are doing absolutely all that we can with RML and our potential sponsors and partners to secure a deal for what I hope will be at least another two events this year.
"I am determined to be back in the car as soon as possible, taking as many points finishes as I can."
He also added that despite his disqualification at Snetterton, that he had proved he has what he takes to be a BTCC front runner and finished off by saying, "I hope my results at Snetterton have shown all the teams and potential partners that I am a serious driver and can deliver on results and speed. My aim for the future is to demonstrate that Snetterton was just the start and not a one off."
As ever there will be three races this weekend, so be sure to come back for full reviews in what could be the weekend that helps decide where the title will end up.