Plato snatches Rockingham pole
|By Jamie O'Leary||Saturday, September 19th 2009, 15:22 GMT|
Jason Plato stormed to his fourth British Touring Car Championship pole position of the year with a blistering late effort at Rockingham.
Plato had trailed his RML Chevrolet team-mate Mat Jackson for most of the 30-minute session, but flew around the track in a record qualifying time of 1m24.087s to clinch the top spot with three minutes to go.
Jonathan Adam then knocked Jackson off the front row a minute later with a time 0.107s slower than Plato's, the Motorbase BMW driver taking the best BTCC grid spot of his career.
Behind Jackson, Stephen Jelley was the best of the WSR BMWs in fourth with the hugely impressive Paul O'Neill producing the Tech-Speed Honda team's best qualifying result of the year in fifth.
Gordon Shedden was another driver to impress, taking his GR-Asia-run SEAT to sixth place.
Defending champion and title contender Fabrizio Giovanardi will start Sunday's opening race from seventh place in his Vauxhall, the Italian qualifying two places ahead of ex-Formula 1 star Johnny Herbert (Dynamics Honda) and, crucially, seven places higher than series leader Colin Turkington.
Turkington was one of several drivers to go off at the Pif-Paf 10 minutes into the session after losing control of his WSR BMW on oil dropped by Matt Hamilton's TH Motorsport Honda.
Also caught out were Harry Vaulkhard, David Pinkney, Rob Collard and O'Neill, with the session being stopped for 10 minutes shortly afterwards to allow the oil slick to be covered with cement dust.
After his off, Collard failed to make it to the end of the session, his Motorbase BMW coasting to a halt after the Tarzan hairpin with an apparent mechanical failure. He qualified eighth.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap 1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 1m24.087s 2. Jonathan Adam BMW 1m24.194s + 0.107s 3. Mat Jackson Chevrolet 1m24.300s + 0.213s 4. Stephen Jelley BMW 1m24.353s + 0.266s 5. Paul O'Neill Honda 1m24.505s + 0.418s 6. Gordon Shedden SEAT 1m24.553s + 0.466s 7. Fabrizio Giovanardi Vauxhall 1m24.568s + 0.481s 8. Rob Collard BMW 1m24.626s + 0.539s 9. Johnny Herbert Honda 1m24.656s + 0.569s 10. Tom Chilton Ford 1m24.700s + 0.613s 11. Andrew Jordan Vauxhall 1m24.711s + 0.624s 12. James Nash Chevrolet 1m24.744s + 0.657s 13. Harry Vaulkhard Chevrolet 1m24.776s + 0.689s 14. Colin Turkington BMW 1m24.801s + 0.714s 15. Matt Neal Vauxhall 1m24.937s + 0.850s 16. David Pinkney Honda 1m25.088s + 1.001s 17. Tom Onslow-Cole Ford 1m25.232s + 1.145s 18. Anthony Reid BMW 1m25.377s + 1.290s 19. Martin Johnson Vauxhall 1m26.800s + 2.713s 20. Matthew Hamilton Honda 1m28.969s + 4.882s 21. John George Honda