Plato claims 50th BTCC pole at Knockhill

Jack Cozens
This article first appeared on autosport.com

Jason Plato secured his 50th British Touring Car Championship qualifying pole and his first for a year with the fastest time in a frenetic end to Saturday’s session at Knockhill.

The Team BMR driver dragged his Subaru Levorg to the fastest time after the chequered flag had fallen, usurping team-mate and championship hopeful Ash Sutton as a late switch to slicks for the majority resulted in a raft of late improvements.

Plato’s pole had initially been provisional and subject to an investigation, but was later confirmed after officials deemed his lap legal.

Sutton had been the pacesetter in the early part of the session, leading the way with an initial best of 56.517s as drivers ventured out on wet tyres with the circuit still damp after an afternoon shower.

Sutton rotated on one of his flying laps but was able to resume and went faster still before a red flag to re-place an advertising hoarding.

Few drivers managed to improve between that red flag and another stoppage to swap the hoarding altogether, but by the time the second red flag period had ended drivers started to try slicks.

Gordon Shedden had briefly set the pace on dry tyres in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R but the rear-wheel drive powered cars soon came to the fore, with Sutton and team-mate Plato heading to the sharp end of the grid.

A number of improvements pushed them back down the order before the chequered flag fell but Sutton leapt back to the top of the times with his final lap, only for Plato to deny by 0.089 seconds.

It was the first pole Plato has achieved in the BTCC since the championship visited the Scottish circuit last season.

Team BMR Subaru driver Plato claimed his 50th qualifying pole position. Picture: Jakob Ebrey

“My car still isn’t great in the dry – we were missing out at the Chicane and into Clark’s – but I was able to control the pace in the mixed conditions and that played to my strength with my experience,” said Plato.

“I am pleased with pole, but I am mindful that I need to help Ash Sutton’s position in the championship tomorrow.”

Behind the Levorg pair, WSR BMW duo Colin Turkington and Rob Collard will share the second row of the grid for Sunday’s opening race in their 125i M Sports.

Neither driver had an answer to the pace of the Subaru pair, with Turkington a third of a second off the pole-setting effort and Collard some six tenths down.

Tom Ingram was the best-placed of the front-wheel drive runners in fifth in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis, ahead of the third Team BMR Levorg of James Cole and Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra driver Senna Proctor.

Dave Newsham was eighth in his Chevrolet Cruze ahead of championship leader Gordon Shedden, while Adam Morgan (Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A-Class) completed the top 10.

Qualifying result:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jason Plato Team BMR Subaru 52.579s
2 Ash Sutton Team BMR Subaru 0.089s
3 Colin Turkington WSR BMW 0.333s
4 Rob Collard WSR BMW 0.625s
5 Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport Toyota 0.694s
6 James Cole Team BMR Subaru 0.781s
7 Senna Proctor Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 0.792s
8 Dave Newsham BTC Racing Chevrolet 0.897s
9 Gordon Shedden Dynamics/Honda Honda 0.908s
10 Adam Morgan Ciceley Racing Mercedes 0.928s
11 Josh Cook Triple Eight/MG MG 1.058s
12 Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1.060s
13 Ant Whorton-Eales AmD Tuning Audi 1.064s
14 Aron Taylor-Smith Triple Eight/MG MG 1.157s
15 Jack Goff Eurotech Racing Honda 1.197s
16 Jake Hill Team Hard Volkswagen 1.257s
17 Andrew Jordan WSR BMW 1.264s
18 Tom Chilton Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 1.278s
19 Josh Price Team BMR Subaru 1.280s
20 Stephen Jelley Team Parker Racing Ford 1.370s
21 Matt Neal Dynamics/Honda Honda 1.378s
22 Matt Simpson Dynamics/Honda Honda 1.477s
23 Rob Austin Handy Motorsport Toyota 1.681s
24 Chris Smiley BTC Racing Chevrolet 1.705s
25 Rory Butcher Motorbase Ford 1.915s
26 Will Burns Team Hard Volkswagen 1.919s
27 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes 2.060s
28 Michael Epps Team Hard Volkswagen 2.151s
29 Brett Smith Eurotech Racing Honda 2.356s
30 Ollie Jackson AmD Tuning Audi 2.591s
31 Martin Depper Motorbase Ford 2.860s
32 Stewart Lines Maximum Motorsport Ford 4.460s

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