BTCC 2012 - Donington Park
Points leader Jason Plato will line up in pole position on the grid for the first of tomorrow’s three Dunlop 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 still 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 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.
Dave Newsham, who took pole two weeks ago at Brands Hatch, was this time seventh in his Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra. But perhaps the driver ruing not venturing back out in the final five minutes was Rob Austin – he’d earlier set the fastest first sector of all in his Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 before aborting the lap so wound up eighth overall. Jordan and Jackson’s respective team-mates – Jeff Smith and Aron Smith – were ninth and tenth.
Meanwhile, in total contrast to team-mate Plato, poor Andy Neate failed to set a lap time when his MG suffered a broken differential so will have to start 23rd and last on tomorrow’s grid.
The session was briefly red-flagged after Adam Morgan span his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis into the gravel trap at Redgate Corner as rain started to fall on the track. And there was a quick spin for Newsham’s team-mate Chris James at the exit of the chicane.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Jason Plato Triple 8 MG 1m10.604s
2. Gordon Shedden Dynamics Honda 1m10.658s + 0.054s
3. Matt Neal Dynamics Honda 1m10.911s + 0.307s
4. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 1m11.068s + 0.464s
5. Rob Collard WSR BMW 1m11.071s + 0.467s
6. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1m11.205s + 0.601s
7. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 1m11.305s + 0.701s
8. Rob Austin Austin Audi 1m11.322s + 0.718s
9. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 1m11.443s + 0.839s
10. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 1m11.568s + 0.964s
11. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 1m11.614s + 1.010s
12. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 1m11.654s + 1.050s
13. Daniel Welch Welch Proton 1m11.954s + 1.350s
14. Nick Foster WSR BMW 1m11.982s + 1.378s
15. Chris James ES Vauxhall 1m12.067s + 1.463s
16. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 1m12.277s + 1.673s
17. Lea Wood Wood Vauxhall 1m12.409s + 1.805s
18. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda 1m12.594s + 1.990s
19. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 1m12.891s + 2.287s
20. Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 1m13.016s + 2.412s
21. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota 1m17.117s + 6.513s
22. John Thorne Thorney Vauxhall 1m29.668s + 19.064s
23. Andy Neate Triple 8 MG
"I don't want to be treated as special because I'm not. I just drive a racing car round in circles a bit faster than everyone else." Michael Schumacher