Knockhill BTCC: Plato edges Sutton for first pole in a year

Jason Plato secured his first BTCC pole position in a year with the fastest time in a frenetic end to Saturday’s qualifying session at Knockhill.

The Team BMR driver dragged his Subaru Levorg to the fastest time after the chequered flag had fallen, usurping teammate Ash Sutton as a late switch to slicks for the majority end resulted in a raft of late improvements.

Plato’s pole had initially been provisional and the subject of an investigation, but was later confirmed after BTCC officials deemed his lap legal.

Championship contender Sutton had been the pacesetter in the early part of the session, leading the way with an initial best of 56.517s as drivers ventured out on wet tyres with the circuit still damp after an afternoon shower.

Sutton spun on one of his flying laps but was able to resume and went faster still before a red flag to replace an advertising hoarding.

Few drivers managed to improve between that red flag and another stoppage to swap the hoarding altogether, but by the time the second red flag period had ended drivers started to venture out on slicks.

That led to a frenzied final five minutes as more of the field switched to dry tyres.

Gordon Shedden had briefly set the pace on slicks in his Honda Civic Type R but the rear-wheel drive powered cars soon came to the fore, with Sutton and teammate Plato heading to the sharp end of the grid.

A number of improvements pushed them back down the order before the chequered flag fell but Sutton leapt back to the top of the times with his final lap, only for Plato to deny by 0.089 seconds.

Pole would the first Plato has achieved in the BTCC since the championship visited the Scottish circuit last season.

Behind the BMR pair, WSR BMW duo Colin Turkington and Rob Collard will share the second row of the grid for Sunday’s opening race.

Neither driver had an answer to the pace of the Subarus, with Turkington a third of a second off the pole-setting effort and Collard some six tenths down.

Tom Ingram was the best-placed of the front-wheel drive runners in fifth in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota, ahead of the third Team BMR Subaru of James Cole and Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall driver Senna Proctor.

Dave Newsham was eighth in his Chevrolet Cruze ahead of championship leader Shedden, while Adam Morgan (Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes) completed the top 10.

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About this article
Series BTCC
Event Knockhill
Track Knockhill Racing Circuit
Drivers Jason Plato
Teams Team BMR
Article type Qualifying report