Oulton Park BTCC: Jason Plato tops three-way fight for pole

Jason Plato defeated Matt Neal and Andy Priaulx in a close three-way fight to grab pole for the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park

Oulton Park BTCC: Jason Plato tops three-way fight for pole

Team BMR driver Plato continued his good form from practice into qualifying, hitting top spot early on with a 1m25.575s.

The Volkswagen CC man better that twice to get down to a 1m25.484s, a crucial improvement that bested Honda's Neal by just 0.011s.

Plato could have gone quicker but did not string his best sectors together, which gave Neal and Priaulx an opportunity to nick pole.

Three-time world champion Priaulx looked most likely, twice going purple in the opening sector, but was unable to complete either lap at the same pace and had to settle for third - just 0.071s slower than Plato.

Plato did emerge late on to try and respond to the threat of his Honda and BMW rivals, but failed to improve again - though he was fortunate to even get back on track after his brakes caught fire briefly in the pitlane with a few minutes remaining.

"It was a really exciting session," he said. "That was a very good scrap for pole.

"This is a brakes circuit. Once you've finished your lap and stopped on the scales you're in trouble. It just got a bit hot."

The top three enjoyed a decent advantage over the next gaggle of cars, headed by Andrew Jordan.

The 2013 champion was quickest in the early stages and eventually secured his best qualifying result since joining MG for this season in fourth.

Gordon Shedden matched Jordan's time in the second Civic Type-R, but will start fifth after setting the time later in the session.

Colin Turkington's quiet Saturday continued with the sixth-best time, almost half a second slower than team-mate Plato, and just ahead of the late-improving Aron Smith in the third VW CC.

Jack Goff pumped in a late flier to go eighth in the other MG, while Tom Ingram continued Speedworks Motorsport's strong start to the weekend with ninth.

Thruxton race winner Adam Morgan completed the top 10 in his Ciceley Racing Mercedes A-class.

QUALIFYING RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Jason Plato Team BMR Volkswagen 1m25.484s -
2 Matt Neal Honda Honda 1m25.495s 0.011s
3 Andy Priaulx WSR BMW 1m25.555s 0.071s
4 Andrew Jordan MG MG 1m25.937s 0.453s
5 Gordon Shedden Honda Honda 1m25.937s 0.453s
6 Colin Turkington Team BMR Volkswagen 1m25.976s 0.492s
7 Aron Taylor-Smith Team BMR Volkswagen 1m25.992s 0.508s
8 Jack Goff MG MG 1m26.024s 0.540s
9 Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport Toyota 1m26.107s 0.623s
10 Adam Morgan Ciceley Racing Mercedes 1m26.121s 0.637s
11 Sam Tordoff WSR BMW 1m26.134s 0.650s
12 Martin Depper Eurotech Honda 1m26.286s 0.802s
13 Dave Newsham Power Maxed Chevrolet 1m26.519s 1.035s
14 Josh Cook Power Maxed Chevrolet 1m26.536s 1.052s
15 Mike Bushell AmD Ford 1m26.546s 1.062s
16 Rob Austin Rob Austin Racing Audi 1m26.580s 1.096s
17 Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 1m26.629s 1.145s
18 Warren Scott Team BMR Volkswagen 1m26.644s 1.160s
19 Rob Collard WSR BMW 1m26.664s 1.180s
20 Aiden Moffat Aiden Moffat Racing Mercedes 1m26.907s 1.423s
21 Alex Martin Team Parker Ford 1m27.383s 1.899s
22 Daniel Welch Welch Motorsport Proton 1m27.698s 2.214s
23 Simon Belcher Handy Motorsport Toyota 1m27.876s 2.392s
24 Hunter Abbott Rob Austin Racing Audi 1m28.062s 2.578s
25 Stewart Lines Houseman Racing Toyota 1m28.275s 2.791s
26 Derek Palmer Jr. Infiniti Infiniti 1m28.767s 3.283s
27 Andy Wilmot Welch Motorsport Proton 1m31.019s 5.535s
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Oulton Park BTCC: Jason Plato tops both practice sessions
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