Plato flies in the damp

SEAT's Jason Plato took pole position for the first of tomorrow's three BTCC races on a damp Donington Park track. James Thompson just got the better of his team-mate and title rival Yvan Muller, qualifying third to the Frenchman's fifth

Plato flies in the damp

Plato was delighted with the way he has started the final weekend of the BTCC season and still holds high hopes of bridging a seven-point gap to overhaul Anthony Reid to be third in the points.

"The SEAT is a great car in the wet, very well balanced," said Plato. "It's all shaping up and I really, really, desperately want third in the championship."

Plato, and everyone else at the top of the tables, had set the time on wet tyres early in the session. The track then gradually dried to the point where wets were no longer effective, but not sufficiently to make slicks - tried either just at the front or all-round by many of the top runners - quicker.

Matt Neal set the second best time in the Computeach Racing with Halfords Honda Civic ahead of Thompson, Colin Turkington in the WSR MG, Muller, and outgoing Independent Champion Rob Collard's Astra.

Thompson was relatively satisfied with his time, particularly in relation to that of Muller. "I would have preferred the front row," said Thommo, "but neither Yvan nor I got pole so it's even stevens on points so far this weekend and I'm ahead on the grid, which should aggravate him."

Thompson was one of those to try slicks on the front of his car towards the end of the session, without success. "It didn't dry as fast as I expected," he explained. "With one more lap, I think we'd have been in the money..."

GA Motorsports' Vauxhall Astra had another semi-new driver this weekend. Gavin Pyper - who drove it in the early part of last year replaced Carl Breeze in the car. He had the time he set early in the session disallowed when the car failed the ride-height test - his laps late in the session, when no really quick laps were turned, only put him 16th.

Jason Plato SEAT 1m20.843s
Matt Neal Honda 1m21.197s
James Thompson Vauxhall 1m21.226s
Colin Turkington MG 1m21.427s
Yvan Muller Vauxhall 1m21.584s
Rob Collard Vauxhall 1m21.657s
Anthony Reid MG 1m21.696s
Michael Bentwood 1m21.772s
Luke Hines Vauxhall 1m21.823s
Tom Chilton Honda 1m21.847s

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