Plato snatches late Oulton pole position from NealPosted: June 9, 2012 | |
The Triple Eight driver had topped both of the morning’s practice sessions and entered qualifying as the hot tip for pole, but the session was a tight one in the slightly damp and cold track conditions.
Thruxton pole sitter Andrew Jordan was the first man to again show his speed in the Eurotech Honda Civic by leaping to the top of the timesheets, only to be immediately bumped from the spot by BMW’s Rob Collard.
Plato was the next to make an improvement as he went to the top despite a wide exit onto the grass at the final corner, before Jordan then went even quicker with an exuberant effort of a 1m23.353s, while Plato fell to fourth behind Collard and Neal.
With the track conditions starting to become more managable, drivers began to push harder and it was the Hondas that came to the fore as Neal and Shedden – returning to the track where they infamously took each other out at the last bend in race two last year – jumped to the top, Neal going to pole with a 1m27.424s lap.
With Neal, Shedden and Jordan heading a Honda lockout of the top three spots, they looked set to stay there as conditions at Cascades corner especially became trickier, Jordan using all of his Rallycross experience to brilliantly save a monster slide while on another fast lap.
He wasn’t the only one as Plato half-spun exiting the fast left-hander and splashed the MG6 through the wet mud, followed by Jeff Smith and Nick Foster also leaving the road at the same corner.
Shedden was next to have a big sideways moment on the damp patches, and he was unable to improve on what would be fifth place on the grid for the Scot who lies second in the championship.
His rival Plato then timed his final lap to perfection and in the closing minutes of session he snatched the pole position off reigning champion Neal – who had improved into the 26s bracket – with a sterling effort of 1m26.872s, claiming his and MG’s second pole of the season.
Behind the exciting front row of Plato and Neal, WSR’s Collard put the turbocharged BMW third on the grid, ahead of the Hondas of Jordan for Eurotech and Shedden for Dynamics/Yuasa Racing.
Another BMW was sixth in the hands of Tom Onslow-Cole, while behind them the fourth row of the grid was filled by the surprise packages of the session, Frank Wrathall (Toyota) and Daniel Welch, the latter showing strong pace in the Proton Persona.
Dave Newsham had a steady run to ninth in the ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra, while the top 10 was rounded up by Mat Jackson who was briefly in the top five despite it being a damage limitation after a crash in second practice at Cascades damaged the front of the Redstone Ford.
Andy Neate showed improvements on his way to 12th, Lea Wood ran as high as sixth but ended the session 14th, while Will Bratt qualified the Rob Austin Racing Audi 18th for his BTCC debut ahead of Jeff Smith and Ollie Jackson, the latter having also crashed his Volkswagen Golf in second practice in the same place as namesake Mat.
1. Jason Plato MG 1m26.872s
2. Matt Neal Honda 1m26.949s + 0.077s
3. Rob Collard WSR BMW 1m26.989s + 0.117s
4. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 1m27.051s + 0.179s
5. Gordon Shedden Honda 1m27.457s + 0.585s
6. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 1m27.503s + 0.631s
7. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 1m27.659s + 0.787s
8. Daniel Welch Welch Proton 1m27.914s + 1.042s
9. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 1m27.969s + 1.097s
10. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1m28.033s + 1.161s
11. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 1m28.093s + 1.221s
12. Andy Neate MG 1m28.125s + 1.253s
13. Nick Foster WSR BMW 1m28.155s + 1.283s
14. Lea Wood Central Vauxhall 1m28.178s + 1.306s
15. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 1m28.241s + 1.369s
16. Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 1m28.357s + 1.485s
17. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda 1m28.521s + 1.649s
18. Will Bratt Austin Audi 1m28.850s + 1.978s
19. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 1m28.991s + 2.119s
20. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 1m29.572s + 2.700s
21. Chris James ES Vauxhall 1m29.657s + 2.785s
22. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota 1m31.689s + 4.817s