Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Friday

In the third of his Bathurst installments, Jason tells of his frustration at a qualifying session that didn't go to plan, vents his anger at the backmarkers and recalls a lucky escape from the unforgiving walls of Mount Panorama

Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Friday

This game can be bloody frustrating at times. I went out first on wets while it was soaking, and the times were all right, well in the top six at the time. Then it started to dry, so I came in for slicks and had my first dry run. I did three or four reasonably quick laps in the 2m15s bracket while it still wasn't 100% dry. Then I hit a load of backmarker cars, so I decided to come into the pits to give Yvan [Muller, my team-mate] a go.

Then a red flag appears, so Yvan can't go out. He goes out...and another red flag brings him back in. Now I'm worried that we're losing valuable time. So while I'm twitching in the pits, raring to go, Yvan is out there and lapping miles off the pace. So I tell the team 'I'm your best chance, I need to be out there now', and eventually they pull him in.

Off I go on new tyres and I got stuck in, balls well out of the window. I'm on for a good time...red flag, lap wiped. While we were stuck in the pits we have a quick look at the data and reckon it was going to be a 2m12s, which would've been top five territory. I go out again...and this time it pisses with rain. So we lost every lap, except for my early run, and we're 19th on the grid.

The plan for qualifying was to run the slowest 50% of the grid in the first period of qualifying and the quick guys in the second one. But, because of the rain, we were all lumped together. Fifty-five cars in one session, and twenty are being driven by complete arseholes. They're just spearing off the track every five minutes, and all the good times were done when Yvan was out, while I was sat in the pits. When they're not going off, they're weaving about in front of you - I doubt that some have the mental capacity to be aware of faster cars coming up behind them.

I'm not having a go at Yvan for being slow, it's just that he hasn't had the time in the car or been around here before. I know where the grip is when it's dry 'cos I've raced here before - at least I had half a chance of setting a quick time.

If it had stayed dry, we would've been top 10. If it had stayed wet, I still think we would've been top 10, because both Yvan and me had set top five times in the morning practice when it was raining. In hindsight I should have stayed in the car, done a time to make sure we're at the sharp end, and then handed the car to Yvan at the end.

Time was running out and we knew the rain was coming, and looking at the data I knew I had to improve under brakes coming through Skyline before the infamous 'Dipper'. I had to brake 30m later, so I took a good bite out of it. I got sideways and immediately thought "I'm in the wall here unless I go through the gravel trap". So into the gravel I go, and it just launches me skywards. Then I'm scooting towards one wall, rescued that, then I'm sideways towards the other wall, rescued that too. Then the circuit goes left into the Dipper, which I go down sideways and just rescue that, and I'm finally back in shape 200 yards later, luckily without hitting a thing.

Although we've not set anything on fire, I still think we're in decent shape for the race. It's not over, because last year's winner only started two places ahead of us. It's not going to stay dry all weekend, and there's going to be a rash of Safety Car periods. I don't care if the leaders bugger off at the start, we'll peg them back under the Safety Car, but more about our race tactics tomorrow.

Jason Plato

shares
comments
Bathurst qualifying: Stonking Skaife storms it

Previous article

Bathurst qualifying: Stonking Skaife storms it

Next article

Macau Guia qualifying: Huisman's pole

Macau Guia qualifying: Huisman's pole
Load comments
Why joker laps are entering the mainstream Plus

Why joker laps are entering the mainstream

This season the World Touring Car Championship looks certain to bring joker laps to a circuit-racing world championship for the first time. And it need not be the daft gimmick people may think

WTCC
Apr 6, 2017
The making of the world's best tin-top driver Plus

The making of the world's best tin-top driver

He has been overshadowed at Citroen for the last three seasons, but the retirement of Yvan Muller means the world says farewell to one of touring-car racing's finest talents

WTCC
Sep 26, 2016
Volvo's plan to conquer the WTCC Plus

Volvo's plan to conquer the WTCC

Volvo gave the World Touring Car Championship a major boost when it announced it would enter the series, but its ambitions don't stop there. JACK COZENS examines its programme, the S60 and what its arrival means for the WTCC

WTCC
Jan 18, 2016
The WTCC's Nordschleife gamble paid off Plus

The WTCC's Nordschleife gamble paid off

A 17-car field on a 13-mile track - the WTCC's Nurburgring Nordschleife gamble wasn't going to be easy to pull off. STUART CODLING explains how the series made it work

WTCC
May 20, 2015
Insight from a Nordschleife master Plus

Insight from a Nordschleife master

World championship racing returns to the Nordschleife this weekend. STUART CODLING got a lesson from one of the legendary track's few masters

WTCC
May 15, 2015
Becoming world champion for £100k Plus

Becoming world champion for £100k

The 2012 World Touring Car champion says he never had the money to race cars. Yet 2015 is his 11th season in the WTCC. He talks STUART CODLING through his journey from motorsport fan to paid professional - for little more than £100,000

WTCC
Mar 23, 2015
Can the vanquished champion bounce back? Plus

Can the vanquished champion bounce back?

The World Touring Car Championship kicks off in Argentina this weekend, and Yvan Muller bids to reclaim his throne from Citroen team-mate Jose Maria Lopez. He talks to STUART CODLING

WTCC
Mar 6, 2015
The top 10 WTCC drivers of 2014 Plus

The top 10 WTCC drivers of 2014

Citroen had no rivals during the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, and 'rookie' Jose Maria Lopez hit the ground running to emerge as a worthy champion. PETER MILLS rates the field

WTCC
Dec 3, 2014