Team BMR’s fleet of Volkswagen CCs ended free practice for this weekend’s BTCC races at Thruxton on top, with Jason Plato and Aron Smith topping a session apiece.
After setting the pace on Saturday morning however, Plato suffered a major crash at the Club chicane as a result of a puncture on his final run, ruling him out of the afternoon session.
“The car was feeling good, then right at the end of my run at the final chicane I was halfway through the braking zone and the front-left went,” said Plato.
“I didn’t get any vibration or warning but maybe we need to back it off a little – it certainly looks that way!”
Before that setback, Plato hit the top of the timesheets at the halfway mark of the first session, jumping from third to first with a 1m17.575s to demote Andy Priaulx to second.
The West Surrey Racing BMW driver lapped within 0.068s of Plato, and just over a tenth quicker than third place man Colin Turkington’s VW, with the leaderboard remaining fairly static for much of the latter half of the session.
Gordon Shedden was the best of the Hondas in fourth, three tenths off the pace, just ahead of Adam Morgan’s Mercedes, the second WSR BMW of Rob Collard, Andrew Jordan’s MG and Smith in the third of the BMR machines.
The second session was interrupted by a red flag following a suspension failure-induced crash for the Proton of Dan Welch, after which Smith surged to the head of the standings on a 1m17.325s.
Matt Neal, ninth in the morning, also made a late surge to go second, 0.170s slower than the Irishman, with Jack Goff’s Triple Eight machine slotting into third just a further three thousandths back.
Jordan and Priaulx completed the top five in a closely fought session, ahead of Turkington, Shedden and Morgan. New Infiniti recruit Martin Donnelly meanwhile was 24th in the morning, before slipping to 26th in the afternoon.
Morning session top 10:
Afternoon session top 10: