Plato tops Brands Hatch practice

Jason Plato re-affirmed his status as British Touring Car Championship title favourite as he topped the practice times for the season finale at Brands Hatch

Plato tops Brands Hatch practice

The Chevrolet driver leapt to the head of the timesheets midway through the morning session in 49.022s and then improved his time by over 0.3s during the afternoon to finish up with a pace-setting mark of 48.634s.

Plato's pace, which was achieved despite the championship leader carrying 45kg of success ballast, was underlined as Alex MacDowall made it an all-Chevrolet one-two with a time 0.009s.

WSR man Rob Collard was the best of the BMW drivers in an impressive third place, just over a tenth off Plato's mark, while Steven Kane's Motorbase 320si was fourth.

Title contender Gordon Shedden was fifth quickest for Honda - five places ahead of his team-mate Matt Neal while the fourth of the title contenders, Tom Onslow-Cole, was sixth in his Arena Ford.

Onslow-Cole's team-mate Tom Chilton, James Nash (Triple 8 Vauxhall) and Mat Jackson (Motorbase BMW) rounded out the top nine ahead of Neal, who opted to dispense with a 'development' front end after the morning session and return to the conventional set-up used by Shedden.

James Thompson gave TOCA's NGTC prototype machine, built around a Toyota Avensis chassis, its maiden public outing in the sessions.

Despite the car having had just a day and a half at Pembrey prior to arriving at Brands, the two-time BTCC champion put it 17th quickest and less than a second off the pace.

BTCC debutant Ben Collins completed only five flying laps during the morning due to a gearbox failure on his Motorbase BMW.

The offending item was repaired in time for him to take to the track for the final 10 minutes of the afternoon, but the sportscar ace failed to complete a flying lap. He was 25th and slowest.

Fellow series rookie Sam Tordoff was 15th quickest and only half a second slower than his Triple 8 team-mate Nash.

The afternoon session was red-flagged for 10 minutes after Shaun Hollamby slid his AmD Milltek Volkswagen into the gravel at Paddock.

Pinkney Motorsport had already begun packing David Pinkney's Vauxhall into its transporter by then. An engine problem during the morning put him out of action for the rest of the weekend.

 Pos Driver Car Time Gap 1. Jason Plato Chevrolet 48.634s 2. Alex MacDowall Chevrolet 48.643s + 0.009s 3. Rob Collard BMW 48.720s + 0.077s 4. Steven Kane BMW 48.805s + 0.171s 5. Gordon Shedden Honda 48.834s + 0.200s 6. Tom Onslow-Cole Ford 48.849s + 0.215s 7. Tom Chilton Ford 48.858s + 0.224s 8. James Nash Vauxhall 48.903s + 0.269s 9. Mat Jackson BMW 48.929s + 0.295s 10. Matt Neal Honda 49.014s + 0.380s 11. Paul O'Neill Honda 49.050s + 0.416s 12. Tom Boardman SEAT 49.193s + 0.559s 13. Andrew Jordan Vauxhall 49.315s + 0.681s 14. James Kaye Honda 49.358s + 0.724s 15. Sam Tordoff Vauxhall 49.454s + 0.820s 16. Andy Neate BMW 49.500s + 0.866s 17. James Thompson Toyota 49.603s + 0.969s 18. Arthur Forster BMW 49.604s + 0.970s 19. Martin Johnson Vauxhall 49.665s + 1.031s 20. John George Honda 49.926s + 1.292s 21. Lea Wood Honda 49.969s + 1.335s 22. Shaun Hollamby Volkswagen 50.125s + 1.491s 23. Martin Depper BMW 50.373s + 1.739s 24. David Pinkney Vauxhall 50.600s + 1.866s 25. Ben Collins BMW 53.356s + 4.722s

Read our in-depth preview ahead of the BTCC finale at Brands Hatch

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