Plato beat Vauxhalls to pole as Honda flounder at Brands Hatch

Reigning champion Jason Plato took a crucial fourth pole position of the season at Brands Hatch this afternoon ahead of the impressive Andrew Jordan, while the two Hondas could only make up the third row of the grid.

In the hottest qualifying session of the year, the Silverline Chevrolet driver was consistently the quickest man throughout each run, twice going to the top of the timesheets in the early stages before settling the matter with a sublime lap in the latter stages of the session of 1m31.874, the only man to dip under the 1m32s.

Plato and team-mate Alex Macdowall were very much the form men in first minutes of the session, although Gordon Shedden briefly restored Honda’s bragging rights by going to the top of the timesheets, beating his team-mate Matt Neal for a Honda one-two.

Their moment in the limelight was short lived however as moments later Plato and MacDowall made it a Chevrolet one-two once again as their Chevy Cruzes looked planted to the racetrack throughout the 30-minute session.

The sesion was brought to a stop twice in quick succession, the first just after 10 minutes when Chris James lost his right front wheel going through Hawthorn bend, bringing out the red flags and causing several drivers to abort quick laps.

Paul O’Neill was one of those to be affected by the stoppages while on fast laps, the second coming only minutes after the restart when Frank Wrathall slid off at Clearways and buried his Toyota Avensis in the gravel trap, having just broken into the top 10.

Shedden and Neal briefly split the Chevys at the front, before MacDowall and Plato then set their best laps to go one-two again, Plato with his sub-1m32 lap that would not be beaten.

“We’ve got a beautiful balance”, Plato told ITV4. “With the old Lacetti we had the same balance with the car when i went on to win three races, and i can make it go where i want.

“I think it will hurt the turbo cars a bit more because they are known to be hard on their tyres. We know how to put together a race car and im confident that we will be good on our tyres. Even though they’re (Honda) not on the front row we have to think about them.”

Their surprise opposition then came from Vauxhall, Andrew Jordan putting together a superb 1m32.139s effort to join Plato on the front row of the grid, the same place he started in the season opener at the shorter configuration of the Kent circuit.

Triple Eight’s James Nash gave Honda more headaches by setting a lap good enough for third on his last effort, pushing MacDowall down to fourth, while the championship leading Hondas of Shedden and Neal make up row three.

The Vauxhall drivers’ Independents championship rival Mat Jackson headed the fourth row for Motorbase Ford, starting alongside O’Neill who was spectacular to watch on his way to eighth.

Arena Ford’s Tom Onslow-Cole and Tom Chilton rounded out the top 10, ahead of a late session sensation of Daniel Welch who qualified in a fantastic 11th in the NGTC Proton Gen-2.

Behind him came Tom Boardman, Rob Collard, Wrathall and Ollie Jackson in 15th, the reigning Pro-am1 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion making his debut for Triple Eight alongside Nash.

Despite their pace in the previous number of rounds, the Brands Hatch GP circuit did not seem to suit the NGTC cars, Rob Austin qualifying his Audi A4 in only 22nd place, while his rookie team-mate Chris Swanwick will start 27th on the packed 29-car grid.

Qualifying results:

1.  Jason Plato       Chevrolet            1m31.874s
2.  Andrew Jordan     Eurotech Vauxhall     + 0.265s
3.  James Nash        Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 0.442s
4.  Alex MacDowall    Chevrolet           + 0.544s
5.  Gordon Shedden    Honda             + 0.568s
6.  Matt Neal        Honda               + 0.570s
7.  Mat Jackson       Motorbase Ford       + 0.723s
8.  Paul O’Neill      Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 0.776s
9.  Tom Onslow-Cole   Arena Ford         + 0.817s
10.  Tom Chilton       Arena Ford         + 0.830s
11.  Daniel Welch      Welch Proton        + 0.843s
12.  Tom Boardman      Special Tuning SEAT    + 1.014s
13.  Rob Collard       WSR BMW           + 1.086s
14.  Frank Wrathall    Dynojet Toyota      + 1.239s
15.  Ollie Jackson     Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 1.369s
16.  Andy Neate        Arena Ford          + 1.379s
17.  Jeff Smith        Eurotech Vauxhall    + 1.410s
18.  Michael Caine     Motorbase Ford         + 1.436s
19.  Martin Byford     AmD Volkswagen       + 1.503s
20.  Nick Foster       WSR BMW              + 1.577s
21.  Dave Newsham      Special Tuning SEAT    + 1.677s
22.  Rob Austin        Rob Austin Audi       + 1.747s
23.  John George       Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 2.314s
24.  Liam Griffin      Motorbase Ford        + 2.367s
25.  Tony Gilham       Geoff Steel BMW      + 2.426s
26.  Lea Wood          Central Group Honda    + 3.077s
27.  Chris Swanwick    Rob Austin Audi        + 3.839s
28.  Chris James       ES Chevrolet
29.  Tony Hughes       Speedworks Toyota



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