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Plato takes historic first BTCC Snetterton 300 pole

Saturday, August 06 2011

Jason Plato has qualified fastest for tomorrow's opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Snetterton. The reigning champion set a lap time of 1:58.691 on the new Snetterton 300 circuit, the first BTCC pole position on this track.

The session started with the Airwaves cars setting the first competitive times, however despite two quick laps, Mat Jackson was unable to break the two minute barrier - no improvement on the Practice sessions and he would end up a disappointed thirteenth.

Meanwhile the Chevrolet and Honda drivers immediately pitted for new tyres. With less than ten minutes of the session gone, Plato was lighting up the timing screens and recorded a lap of 1:59.278s. This was immediately beaten by Alex MacDowall and then Gordon Shedden. Matt Neal was slower than Plato at this point and in fourth place.

The screen remained static for a good ten minutes, before further action, but despite the times dropping into the 1:58 bracket, the top four remained the same. MacDowall's cause wasnt helped when his fire extinguisher went off in the car, leaving the team with a lot of work to do if he were to take pole.

James Nash, who won on the road on the old circuit in 2009, before being stripped of the win, was knocking on the door of the first two rows. However he would remain fifth, ahead of Tom Chilton. Celebrating a fine seventh place was Frank Wrathall, up to the heady heights of the top ten in the NGTC Toyota Avensis.

Dave Newsham followed up his impressive practice form with eighth, whilst Paul O'Neill will start from ninth. Tom Onslow-Cole will start tenth, the AON Focus cars outperforming last year's model.

Plato, meanwhile, was throwing everything at his shot of pole position and with Neal close behind matching his moves, the tension was high in the final moments of the session. Plato took provisional pole, whilst Neal returned to the garage for final adjustments, returning just in time to cross the line for his flying lap before the chequered flag went out. Neal's final lap didn't look to be good enough for pole and as he took the flag it wasn't.

The first BTCC race on the new 300 circuit will take place at 12:10 tomorrow (Sunday).

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Qualifying

1. Jason Plato, Silverline, Chevrolet, 1:58.691s
2. Gordon Shedden, Honda, +0.025s
3. Alex MacDowall, Silverline, Chevrolet, +0.217s
4. Matt Neal, Honda, +0.248s
5. James Nash, Triple 8, Vauxhall, +0.376s
6. Tom Chilton, AON, Ford, +0.393s
7. Frank Wrathall, Dynojet, Toyota, +0.393s
8. Dave Newsham, Special Tuning, SEAT, +0.561s
9. Paul O'Neill, Tech-Speed, Chevrolet, +0.729s
10. Tom Onslow-Cole, AON, Ford, +0.824s

Raceday tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring car Championship at Snetterton are available on the gate for £30, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information, click the link below.

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