The thrilling opening races of Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship have met with a long break of over a month leaving teams to prepare themselves for tough season in-progress. But for fans though, this Saturday has been a long time coming to stick their eyes at Oulton Park in Chesire.
TRACK NATURE :
Oulton Park circuit is a high-speed track with dips and climbs demanding precision driving. The unpredictable British summer has wet forecast for the race day and wet tyres could play tactically its part between winning or losing.
PRACTICE 1 :
In the first of practice sessions, Plato has run through his MG6 to head the timing sheets on what has been a dominating wet time out for the former champion. His lead being broken by Redstone Racing’s Mat Jackson in his Ford Focus momentarily approaching 20 minutes into the session. But Plato has just done enough to claw back on top while aquaplaning the race track.
Only Mat Jackson and Andy Neate have got inside within a side of Plato’s pace. Andy enjoyed a trouble-free session staying ahead of reigning champion Matt Neale followed by Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Civic.
PRACTICE 2 :
Though the session drying out, Ollie Jackson crashed his AmD Tuning.com VW Golf at the Cascades corner and damaged the safety barriers to bring out red flag shortening the session. Mat Jackson also had gone off at the same corner in the earlier part of session.
The pecking order could have changed if the session lasted its entire course but luckily for Jason Plato his KX Momentum Racing MG6 set in 1m27.426s to stay in the lead ahead of Matt Neale who adrift by 0.014s. Then followed Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Civic in front of Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden in fourth.The last man to get within a second of Plato, was Robert Collard in his eBay Motors BMW for fifth.
The qualifying is so intense that it has been decided only at the final moment. As Jason Plato running wide of Lodge corner on his first run and off the track and through the puddles at Cascades on his second. So a final run decides all or nothing for Jason. Neale, Shedden and Jordan pushed him to the limit unlike on Thursday.
Actually Neal having aborted his final run when flag has gone out concluding the session believes that he could’ve gone for pole. Less than two tenths of a second separating the top four with Jason Plato taking pole for race one from Neal, Collard, Jordan and Shedden.
Collard known for his bashing from back into the first corner starts right behind Jason Plato and after four wins Shedden looks less than comfortable in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team’s Honda Civic.
Lap times are set in less than ideal conditions with damp patches all around the track. Tom Onslow-Cole starts at p6 for eBay Motors in his BMW 320si ahead of Frank Wrathall. With career best starting grid for Daniel Welsch in his Proton Persona ahead of Dave Newsham; Mat Jackson round out the top ten after managing just one flying lap in his Ford Focus due to cooling system problems.
Despite Plato carrying maximum success ballast he managed to snatch pole but Neal who starts alongside Jason fears of Jason’s race pace as MG6 normally goes fast under race trim. Neal has been quoted as saying,
“If Jason leads at the first bend tomorrow then he’ll drive away – the MG simply has more squirt than us on the straights at the moment.”
Qualifying Results for Oulton Park Race One :
1. Jason Plato MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 1:26.872s
2. Matt Neal Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic 1:26.949s + 0.077s
3. Rob Collard eBay Motors BMW 320si 1:26.989s + 0.117s
4. Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing Honda Civic 1:27.051s + 0.179s
5. Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic 1:27.457s + 0.585s
6. Tom Onslow-Cole eBay Motors BMW 320si 1:27.503s + 0.631s
7. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota Avensis 1:27.659s + 0.787s
8. Daniel Welch Welch Motorsport Proton Persona 1:27.914s + 1.042s
9. Dave Newsham Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra 1:27.969s + 1.097s
10. Mat Jackson Redstone Racing Ford Focus 1:28.033s + 1.161s
11. Aron Smith Redstone Racing Ford Focus 1:28.093s + 1.221s
12. Andy Neate MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 1:28.125s + 1.253s
13. Nick Foster eBay Motors BMW 320si 1:28.155s + 1.283s
14. Lea Wood BINZ Racing Vauxhall Vectra 1:28.178s + 1.306s
15. Liam Griffin Redstone Racing Ford Focus 1:28.241s + 1.369s
16. Adam Morgan Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 1:28.357s + 1.485s
17. Tony Gilham Team HARD. Honda Civic 1:28.521s + 1.649s
18. Will Bratt Rob Austin RAcing Audi A4 1:28.85s + 1.978s
19. Jeff Smith Pirtek Racing Honda Civic 1:28.991s + 2.119s
20. Ollie Jackson AmD Tuning.com Volkswagen Golf 1:29.572s + 2.700s
21. Chris James Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra 1:29.657s + 2.785s
22. Tony Hughes Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 1:31.689s + 4.817s