Jason Plato signalled his intent ahead of this weekend’s BTCC races at Oulton Park, breaking his own lap record from two years ago and topping both practice sessions.
The BMR Volkswagen driver surged to the top of the timesheets late on in a first session that began with light rain that quickly dried, deposing previous pacesetter Andrew Jordan with a 1m26.135s, five thousandths shy of his 2013 record.
Plato then smashed through that barrier with a searing 1m25.671s to take the top spot by a commanding 0.636s, Tom Ingram slotting into second ahead of Jordan in the closing stages and Aron Smith and Colin Turkington making it three VWs in the top five.
The pace in the second session wasn’t quite as hot, but Plato was once more imperious, the only man to break the 1m26s barrier with a best time of 1m25.968s set just before a brief red flag interlude at the halfway stage.
He looked set to improve further in the dying stages with a purple middle sector, but failed to improve, albeit setting another time comfortably quicker than closest rival Jordan, who ended the session 0.344s adrift in his works MG.
Andy Priaulx, seventh in the first session for BMW, was third in the afternoon, a further 0.041s back, with Ingram enjoying another strong showing with fourth ahead of Jack Goff in the second Triple Eight machine.
Honda meanwhile proved somewhat off the pace in both sessions, Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal coming ninth and 10th in the morning. The latter improved to eighth in the afternoon, while points leader Shedden completed the top 10.