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Plato catches BTCC rivals napping at Oulton Park

Saturday, June 06 2015

Jason Plato laid down a marker for his rivals in opening practice for this weekend's rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park today (Saturday), by smashing his pole position time from two years ago, the last time the series raced on the Island layout.

The opening session started just as a few spots of rain passed over the circuit, and although this barely made any difference to the track surface, it was a few minutes before any meaningful running took place. The WSR BMW of Rob Collard and BMR VW of Aron Smith took turns to head the order at this early stage, with championship leader Gordon Shedden's Honda and Andrew Jordan's MG soon joining the party.

Jordan's best effort midway through the session was four tenths shy of pole position from 2013, the last time the BTCC cars competed on the Island layout. That time was set by the MG with Jason Plato at the wheel, and soon afterwards the man himself, now in a BMR VW, lapped within five thousandths of that time. One lap later he took a huge half-second out of that mark to take a clear lead in the session.

Jordan closed the gap a little, but Plato's advantage remained at just under eight tenths of a second until, with just a couple of minutes remaining, Tom Ingram lapped a tenth quicker than the MG to claim the runner-up position. Behind Jordan, Smith headed team-mate and reigning champion Colin Turkington, whilst MG's Jack Goff took sixth place ahead of the highest WSR runner, Andy Priaulx. Impressive rookie Josh Cook and the Honda pairing of Shedden and Matt Neal completed the top ten.

After the session, Plato commented: "I love this place, and it's a circuit which I just feel in the groove with. I feel part of the track, and it's a lovely place to be when you're in tune with it. Over the years I've learnt what the car needs to feel like here. You don't get points for free practice, you get them for pole, and it's early days, but I've put some lap times on the floor whilst the others wake up - and they will wake up."

The second practice session will take place at 12:45pm today. Click here for the full session result.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Practice one
1, Jason Plato, Team BMR, VW CC, 1:25.671s
2, Tom Ingram, Speedworks, Toyota Avensis, +0.646s
3, Andrew Jordan, MG 888 Racing, MG6 GT, +0.786s
4, Aron Smith, Team BMR, VW CC, +0.863s
5, Colin Turkington, Team BMR, VW CC, +1.056s
6, Jack Goff, MG 888 Racing, MG6 GT, +1.087s
7, Andy Priaulx, WSR, BMW 125i M-Sport, +1.120s
8, Josh Cook, Power Maxed Racing, Chevrolet Cruze, +1.230s
9, Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing, Civic Type R, +1.317s
10, Matt Neal, Honda Racing, Civic Type R, +1.366s

Tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on 6/7 June are available in advance from £14 on Saturday and £32 on Sunday, with free entry for children under 13. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.