Points leader Jason Plato will line up in pole position on the grid for the first of tomorrow’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Donington Park.
Plato’s new MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 set the fastest lap early in this afternoon’s qualifying session before rain thwarted his rivals’ chances on the swooping Leicestershire track.
It was the 36th pole of Plato’s illustrious career – achieved, significantly, in a car carrying maximum success ballast – and the former double Champion from Oxford was ecstatic.
“This is one of the most satisfying of all,” he enthused. “We knew the rain was coming so popped in a fast lap early on, but what a result for the team and this car. It is still very new to racing but we got a win out of it on its debut at Brands Hatch and it just gets better and better.”
Fife’s Gordon Shedden will start alongside Plato from second on tomorrow’s grid – his best lap in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic was just 0.054s adrift of Plato’s pole time. His Honda team-mate Matt Neal, the reigning Champion from Worcestershire, was third.
Shedden commented: “I had a few hairy moments out there – that is the maximum I could achieve with the car. But I’m on the front row so can’t complain too much given the problems I had at Brands Hatch.”
Neal added: “Even though my car has slightly less ballast than Jason’s the gap to him is still three tenths of a second. We have no more left in the tank. We need Jason to make a mistake tomorrow and he doesn’t make many of those.”
Another Honda driver, independent Andrew Jordan – one of the local favourites from Lichfield – was fourth in his Pirtek Racing Civic. He was one of the few drivers to improve his position as the track started to dry slightly in the session’s closing stages – another was Robert Collard who moved up to fifth in his eBay Motors BMW at the expense of Warwickshire ace Mat Jackson’s Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST.
Tomorrow’s three races will be shown live during a mammoth seven-hour broadcast from 11.00am-6.00pm on ITV4 and ITV4 HD as well as the www.itv.com website.
BTCC Qualifying, Donington Park, 14 April 2012 (provisional)
1. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, 1m10.604s
2. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.054s
3. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic, +0.307s
4. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.464s
5. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.467s
6. Mat Jackson (GBR), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +0.601s
7. Dave Newsham (GBR), ES Racing.com/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.701s
8. Rob Austin (GBR), Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4, +0.718s
9. Jeff Smith (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.839s
10. Aron Smith (IRL), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +0.964s