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Plato snatches Rockingham pole

Jason Plato celebrates Rockingham poleJason 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

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