Plato survives fire to take Oulton pole from Neal

Jason Plato will start Sunday’s opening BTCC race at Oulton Park from pole position after surviving a brake fire to top a tight qualifying session.

The two-time champion looked nailed on for the top spot on the grid after dominating both practice sessions, but qualifying proved a much more closely fought affair as Honda’s Matt Neal was able to lap within 11 thousandths of the BMR Volkswagen driver.

Plato staked an early claim to pole when he set a time quicker than his lap record-busting effort in first practice early on, before finding a further 0.080s later in the session.

He was then able to shave another 0.011s off his best on his next lap, a 1m25.484s, before his progress was halted by a brake fire that was extinguished in the pitlane by marshals.

By the time Plato got back on circuit in the closing minutes, Neal had gone second with a time just 0.011s shy of his long-time rival, but neither could improve thereafter.

WSR BMW driver Andy Priaulx also managed to lap within a tenth of Plato late on to secure third on the grid, just 0.071s off the pace, while the MG of Andrew Jordan and the ballast-laden Honda of championship leader Gordon Shedden completed the top five with identical times.

Shedden’s last-gasp effort demoted Colin Turkington to sixth ahead of BMR teammate Aron Smith, with Jack Goff going eighth quickest in the second MG having had his early times deleted due to a ride height infraction.

Tom Ingram’s Toyota and the Mercedes of Thruxton winner Adam Morgan completed the top 10 qualifiers.

Qualifying results:

1 Jason Plato Volkswagen 1m25.484s  
2 Matt Neal Honda 1m25.495s 0.011s
3 Andy Priaulx BMW 1m25.555s 0.071s
4 Andrew Jordan MG 1m25.937s 0.453s
5 Gordon Shedden Honda 1m25.937s 0.453s
6 Colin Turkington Volkswagen 1m25.976s 0.492s
7 Aron Smith Volkswagen 1m25.992s 0.508s
8 Jack Goff MG 1m26.024s 0.540s
9 Tom Ingram Toyota 1m26.107s 0.623s
10 Adam Morgan Mercedes 1m26.121s 0.637s
11 Sam Tordoff BMW 1m26.134s 0.650s
12 Martin Depper Honda 1m26.286s 0.802s
13 Dave Newsham Chevrolet 1m26.519s 1.035s
14 Josh Cook Chevrolet 1m26.536s 1.052s
15 Mike Bushell Ford 1m26.546s 1.062s
16 Rob Austin Audi 1m26.580s 1.096s
17 Jeff Smith Honda 1m26.629s 1.145s
18 Warren Scott Volkswagen 1m26.644s 1.160s
19 Rob Collard BMW 1m26.664s 1.180s
20 Aiden Moffat Mercedes 1m26.907s 1.423s
21 Alex Martin Ford 1m27.383s 1.899s
22 Daniel Welch Proton 1m27.698s 2.214s
23 Simon Belcher Toyota 1m27.876s 2.392s
24 Hunter Abbott Audi 1m28.062s 2.578s
25 Stewart Lines Toyota 1m28.275s 2.791s
26 Derek Palmer Infiniti 1m28.767s 3.283s
27 Andy Wilmot Proton 1m31.019s 5.535s
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About this article
Series BTCC
Event Oulton Park
Track Oulton Park Circuit
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Gordon Shedden , Andrew Jordan
Teams Team BMR
Article type Qualifying report