His BMW VW CC was over 6 tenths of a second quicker than his nearest rival, Tom Ingram, who is driving his Speedworks Toyota Avensis in his teams home race as they are based just up the road in Northwich.
Andrew Jordan was third in his Pirtek MG6, a good start for the former champion who hasn’t been as quick as he’d hoped this year.
Fourth and fifth were Plato’s team mates Aron Smith and Colin Turkington. All the BMR cars have new sponsorship this weekend as RCIB Insurance brokers have agreed a deal to sponsor the team for the rest of the 2015 season. The company already supports Jack Goff’s MG and Kieran Gallagher’s Team Hard Toyota Avensis.
It was another of RCIB’s drivers in sixth as Jack Goff took his works MG6 round just over a second off Plato’s fastest time.
Andy Priaulx was next in his IHG BMW, the only of the three WSR run BMW’s to make the top ten with Tordoff and Collard in seventeenth and Eighteenth respectively.
Eighth was Josh Cook, going well in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet, his team mate, Dave Newsham was outside the top ten in twelfth.
Completing the top ten were the two works Honda Civics with Shedden ahead of Neal. Exocet Alcosense racing had been hoping to go well here with Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott but they are currently down in twentieth and twenty second with Abbott ahead of Austin.
The Support our Paras team only had one Infiniti out for Derek Palmer but are lucky to be competing at all after the withdrawal of manufacturer Infiniti. They cited differences in expectations as the reason for the split.
Both Mike Bushell of AMD Tuning and Simon Belcher of Handy Motorsport were out in their cars after they had been in doubt for the weekend following their huge qualifying crash at Thruxton. Both cars needed expensive repairs and both drivers launched crowd funding schemes to help pay the bill. Both of the cars repairs were finished in the garages here at Oulton Park. Bushell was sixteenth in the session and Belcher nineteenth.
Twenty eight cars took part in the session although Andy Wilmot only did a few laps in his Welch Motorsport Proton after again suffering from technical issues.
In other news, Dunlop have introduced a new medium spec tyre to the championship to replace the medium tyre that has been used up until now. Unlop’s Mickey Butler explains;
“Even though we are the sole supplier, we are always looking to introduce new developments that can benefit the teams and the racing. The new tyre uses new materials that have been proven in our successful GT Endurance racing programmes and we decided that applying these new technologies would benefit the BTCC tyre”
The new tyre was tested last year in the official test sessions. The soft tyre will not change and Mickey spoke about the way the tyres varied at Donington Park (The last round that the two tyre types were used. Thruxton has only one tyre type.)
“We did see a bigger than expected difference between the two tyres at the recent Donington race, but this was due to colder than expected track conditions. During the Summer months, we expect the performance difference between the current Soft and the new Medium to be similar to 2014. We will consider applying the same material changes to the 2016 Soft tyre if we find it is necessary after analysing the results from this season”
The tyres can be indentified by the lettering on the tyre wall. The Soft tyres have white Dunlop letters and the medium have yellow lettering. Drivers have to use the soft tyre in one race per weekend (Except Thruxton.) unless conditions are wet.
Full times from this session are available from TSL timing.
The second session is at 12:45pm with Qualifying at 3:20pm. By Marc Waller