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Plato takes Snetterton BTCC pole from Turkington

Saturday, August 02 2014

Jason Plato followed up his practice pace with pole position for tomorrow's opening race of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship round at Snetterton today (Saturday). Title leader Colin Turkington will start alongside on the front row after offering a late challenge.

Just as with practice two, the session got underway without the reigning champion, who was prevented from taking part under medical orders. Andrew Jordan is confident that he will be able to compete in tomorrow's races, but will be forced to start from the back of the grid.

All of the front wheel drive cars pitted after one tour of the circuit, leaving the BMWs and Rob Austin Audis time to warm their tyres. This meant that Austin was able to head the order early on, but with Plato having spent the briefest of moments in the garage, he quickly assumed his place at the top of the pile with a lap time just a couple of tenths shy of his practice best.

Sam Tordoff soon joined his team mate at the front with a lap good enough for second place, albeit eighth tenths adrift. Matt Neal, Alain Menu and Turkington completed the top five as the halfway point approached and the pitlane began to fill once more.

The order at the top remained stagnant for a while, but a quick sector times from Turkington and Menu as the session entered its final third signalled further changes. The championship leader split the MGs and reduced the deficit to Plato by a couple of tenths. He tried again on the following tour, chipping another two tenths away, but with a spot on the front row almost guaranteed, it looked as though his work was done for the day.

Neal helped team mate Shedden's bid by providing a slipstream, but despite improved sector times, the Scotsman remained in 12th place. Meanwhile the top three had ended the session in the pits, and with Neal trying to assist his team mate, only Menu attempted to make a late improvement. He was unable to make a difference, and stayed fifth, ahead of impressive rookie Tom Ingram, Aron Smith, Adam Morgan, Mat Jackson and Jack Goff, who joined his BMR team mates in the top ten.

After the session Jason declared that he was pleased with the setup for the weekend, but that he was concerned by Turkington's speed late on: "You get the feeling when you can do what you want to do in the car. That's job one of four done for the weekend, we've now got to score the points. Halfway through the session the track changed and I think the pace went up."

Tomorrow's first race will prove a real test of the BMW's longer first gear, intended to negate the rear-wheel-drive cars' advantage at the start. The race will take place at 12:02 tomorrow.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying
1, Jason Plato, MG, MG6, 1:56.495s
2, Colin Turkington, eBay Motors, BMW 125i, +0.415s
3, Sam Tordoff, MG, MG6, +0.759s
4, Matt Neal, Honda Racing, Honda Civic, +0.786s
5, Alain Menu, Team BMR, VW Passat, +0.796s
6, Tom Ingram, Speedworks, Toyota Avensis, +1.081s
7, Aron Smith, Team BMR, VW Passat, +1.213
8, Adam Morgan, WIX Racing, Mercedes A-Class, +1.251s
9, Mat Jackson, Airwaves Racing, Ford Focus, +1.251s
10, Jack Goff, Team BMR, VW Passat, +1.262s

Click here to view the full session result.

Raceday tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton are available on the gate for £32, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.