Jason Plato set the pole position time in this afternoon’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying session on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent.
Plato, from Oxford, achieved a best time of 1m31.874s – more than a quarter of a second clear of his rivals – in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze. It is his fourth pole out of the championship’s last five qualifying sessions.
Staffordshire’s Andrew Jordan and Buckinghamshire’s James Nash, driving Vauxhall Vectras for the Pirtek Racing and 888 Racing with Collins Contractors teams respectively, set the second and third fastest times just ahead of Plato’s young Cumbrian team-mate Alex MacDowall. Fife’s Gordon Shedden and Worcestershire’s Matt Neal, who will go into tomorrow’s three races tying for the championship lead, were fifth and sixth in their Honda Racing Team Civics.
Plato, the reigning Champion and third in the current standings with some 24 points to make up on Neal and Shedden, commented: “I am very pleased with that lap – my car’s set-up was absolutely perfect and I could attack all the way. Hopefully it’ll be as hot again tomorrow which could sap the turbo cars like the Hondas of a bit of power… catching them is a big ask but this is the best way to go about it.”
Jordan, who last qualified on the front row of the grid at Thruxton back in May, added: “We knew this would be a good circuit for the Vectra but even though I put in a couple of good laps I’m still quite surprised to be second. I’ve got nothing to lose now – I’ve not really got a championship to think about so I’m going all out for big results.”
Nash, who leads the Independents Trophy for drivers in privateer teams, said: “The last time I was this high up was Donington Park back in April and I had a great day there. Hopefully it can be the same tomorrow. I don’t see any reason to change my approach just because I’m ahead in the Independents table – it’s still all about as many points as possible.”
The big surprise of today’s qualifying session was the performance of Daniel Welch in his Welch Motorsport Proton Gen-2 which was 11th fastest overall and the highest-placed of the BTCC’s latest Next Generation Touring Car type machines.
Tomorrow’s three races from Brands Hatch, featuring a record-equalling 29-car BTCC grid, will be shown live from 11.00am-6.00pm on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels as well the www.itv.com website.
Top ten, BTCC Qualifying, Brands Hatch Grand Prix (Sat 1 Oct):
1. Jason Plato (GBR), Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze, 1m31.874s
2. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.265s
3. James Nash (GBR), 888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.442s
4. Alex MacDowall (GBR), Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.544s
5. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.568s
6. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.570s
7. Mat Jackson (GBR), Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus, +0.723s
8. Paul O’Neill (GBR), GoMobileUK.com with tech-speed/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.776s
9. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), Team Aon/Ford Focus, +0.817s
10. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Aon/Ford Focus, +0.830s