Amazingly Plato is yet to win in 2016 so he will be aiming to correct that in tomorrow’s first race.
Plato usually starts off the practice sessions at a slower pace before improving dramatically in qualifying but today he has been on the pace the whole time taking first and sixth in the two practice sessions.
As well as his 500th race, it’s also his 49th Pole, just missing out on the symmetry of having his 500th start on his 50th!
The quickest times in this session came at the end, meaning it was important to get a clean lap to maximise your grid position and Plato was one of the few to do so as he mentioned afterwards;
“Going into the last lap I knew I had the pace in the car,” he said. “We just had to get a clean lap in around here with the traffic. Every one I did was getting spoiled in one way or another. I’m chuffed with that and I think I’ll get a strong start tomorrow.”
“Everything has to be perfect around here. I was relieved to get the lap in and had I not got pole I’d have been frustrated. We’ve got a good balance and we’re in good shape.”
Tom Ingram had looked set to take his third pole of 2016 but his last lap was spoiled by traffic and he lost another quick lap due to a track limits infringement. Second was still a strong result for the Speedworks driver.
Championship leader Sam Tordoff took third on the grid despite carrying maximum ballast showing just how quick he is this season. His WSR team mate Jack Goff in the IHG Rewards club BMW was fourth. Their team mate Rob Collard had a nightmare, losing his best time due to track limits infringements and ending up eighteenth. He has struggled with qualifying all season only making it into the top ten once.
Colin Turkington’s Subaru Levorg made it two cars in the top five for the BMR team. Turkington, who has usually been the quicker of the team’s four drivers, couldn’t match Plato’s time on this occasion. He was however just 0.098 seconds off but this was the difference between taking pole and starting fifth.
Andrew Jordan was sixth, looking spectacular around the short Scottish circuit, especially through the chicane where on one occasion he was literally flying with all four wheels in the air!
Matt Neal was seventh for Honda, unusually beating his team mate Shedden. Shedden is usually rapid around the track as he also works at Knockhill when he isn’t racing. His local knowledge didn’t help him today and Shedden took eleventh.
Adam Morgan had to sit out the final part of qualifying when the quicker times were set and he saw his car drop down the top ten to eighth.
The session ended up having three parts after it was stopped twice for incidents. The first was when Ollie Jackson hit the tyre wall just after the chicane. He missed the rest of the session leaving him dead last on the grid.
The other was close to the end when Jeff Smith’s car turned around at the first corner and slid into the gravel. It’s not currently clear if it was driver error or a car failure but it dropped Jeff down the order when several drivers that he had been ahead of improved their times leaving him in twenty second in the Eurotech Honda when a top ten had looked possible.
Rob Austin’s Snetterton good fortune seems to be continuing as he took ninth on the grid, the best ever qualifying position for Handy Motorsport.
Dave Newsham impressed on his return to Power Maxed taking tenth on the grid. Team mate Hunter Abbott had been expected to take a top ten grid slot but he lost his best lap time due to a track limits infringement and his next best time was only good enough for twenty fourth on the closely matched grid.
Aidan Moffat took twelfth at his home circuit with Ashley Sutton in thirteenth, the best of the works MGs. Team mate Cook could only manage seventeenth.
James Cole took fourteenth in his BMR Subaru Levorg with team mate Warren Scott, the last of the Subarus only making twenty first.
Mat Jackson was the final car of the top half of the grid in fifteenth
The top twenty cars were separated by less than a second, this makes this the closest qualifying session of what has alrady been a very close season.
Race one gets underway tomorrow at 11:50 with support races on track from 9:35. Tickets are available on the gate and the weather is due to be dry with some sunshine between cloudy spells.
1 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 51.521s
2 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.021s
3 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.030s
4 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +0.046s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.098s
6 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.297s
7 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.359s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +0.378s
9 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +0.391s
10 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.437s
11 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.462s
12 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.463s
13 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.494s
14 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.541s
15 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.584s
16 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.585s
17 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.606s
18 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.644s
19 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +0.669s
20 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +0.748s
21 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.768s
22 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.829s
23 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +0.845s
24 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.886s
25 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.936s
26 Dan WELCH (GBR) Goodestone Racing +0.996s
27 Michael CAINE (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.095s
28 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +1.411s
29 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +1.421s
30 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +1.947s
31 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +2.402s By Marc Waller