Jason Plato will lead team-mate Mat Jackson for round 10 of the HiQ MSA British Touring Cars at Oulton Park where he took pole position in the blistering heat. In doing so Plato set a new qualifying lap record around the Cheshire circuit. Plato...
Jason Plato will lead team-mate Mat Jackson for round 10 of the HiQ MSA British Touring Cars at Oulton Park where he took pole position in the blistering heat. In doing so Plato set a new qualifying lap record around the Cheshire circuit.
Plato was delighted with his pole and also with the pace of the car, which is still relatively new to him by saying, "The car felt fast straight out of the box this morning in practice. It's always great to get pole but to do it at what is still only our fourth event with this car is very satisfying."
Fellow Team Silverline driver Jackson will start alongside him despite suffering a major scare in Free Practice when he went off at the High-speed corner of Druids. Although he hit the barriers damage was only minimal and he was able to continue after. Jackson was also clearly impressed by Plato's lap by saying, "God knows where Jason found those four tenths of a second. I'll certainly be taking a look at his data. But not bad for an old bloke!"
In third was Colin Turkington who has qualified ahead of his fellow title competitors and clearly thinks this is where he can make his mark in the championship fight, despite Matt Neal only carrying more ballast who finished way down in tenth said, "Jason and Mat are tough nuts and I'd expect any gaps to close pretty quickly. I think Mat a few years ago started third in a BMW and led into the first bend but there are no guarantees. If I can take the lead and win then of course it's a better result but I'm not going to throw any points away. I've got 36kgs of success ballast and Matt's got 45kgs - that's only ten more so I'm surprised he's back down there. One of the BMW's strengths has always been its ability to use the tyres well during a race distance so hopefully we're looking in good shape for tomorrow."
Next up was the star of Qualifying, Adam Jones, in his Cartridge World Seat Leon who also topped the times in Free Practice 2 ahead of the first of the Airways BMW drivers Jonny Adam.
They will start ahead of the first Vauxhall driver, who is also celebrating 100 starts in the championship this weekend, Fabrizio Giovanardi. He admits that the cars struggled in the heat despite leading Free Practice 1 and is looking for changes for tomorrows three races, which he expects to be run in much the same conditions by saying, "I don't think that the weight was such a problem, as we saw from Turkington, but it is definitely the heat that is the biggest challenge. We don't think it will be any different tomorrow, so we'll need to look at set up changes for these conditions."
In seventh will be Stephen Jelley in his much repaired Team RAC BMW after a heavy accident at Donington two weeks ago. Alongside him will be Andrew Jordan despite being ballast free again struggled in his Vectra.
On row 5 will be two of the top 3 drivers in the championship with Rob Collard alongside series leader going into the weekend Matt Neal. Collard was disappointed with ninth despite showing early promise within the session and said, "On my first run I was up to fourth and although you know it's going to get quicker I felt confident we could have gone with the rest. But on my second run I locked a tyre into the hairpin and flat- spotted it so had to abort that attempt. Then on my final run we think there may have been a puncture in one of the tyres so it never worked out."
Neal was not too downbeat despite qualifying tenth and also feels that the heat played a factor in his poor showing by saying, "When it's hot like today I think the heat accentuates even the slightest deficiencies and that's probably what's happened with the ballast I've got. It's probably the same for Giovanardi who's got slightly less ballast but is sixth. But the car actually feels fine, although I think we may have to work on the car's set-up tonight to make it come good during the second half of the race."
Just outside the top 10 will be Harry Vaulkhard who pushed incredibly hard all day sometimes overdoing it, and had a major spin in Free Practice 2. Although he was lucky not to hit anything, he hopes to carry on with his good performance from Donington, while double race winner from the same event, James Thompson, will start a disappointing 12th ahead of Paul O'Neill, who hopes to continue his good form in front of his local crowd.
Next up will be the pair of Team Aon Focuses with Tom Chilton ahead of Alan Morrison with BTCC debutant James Nash starting just behind them in yet another RML Chevrolet Lacetti.
The second Team Dynamics Civic of Dave Pinkney will be next ahead of Martyn Bell, who again celebrates a 100 race starts in the BTCC this weekend. Despite teammate Adam Jones qualifying 4th, Dan Eaves is well down in a disappointing 18th place although he just hopes to complete some racing laps after only completing a total of 4 in 6 races. The Final row of the grid will be filled with John George ahead of Martin Johnson in 21st.
Not present at Oulton will be Liam McMillan who is awaiting a repaired engine from Oreca in France, Nick Leason who is away trying to find some performance gains and Jason Hughes who, despite recovering from his knee surgery, is away on business commitments.