Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Thursday

In the second of his Bathurst diaries, Vauxhall's BTCC ace finally gets to lap Mount Panorama in his 600bhp Holden Commodore, only for his efforts to be frustrated by torrential rain which cause him a few scary moments

Jason Plato's Bathurst diary: Thursday

There's only one word to describe the weather since I've got to Bathurst: rank. It's rained every day and, as I look out of my window, it's raining now. It's like it was back home when I left for Oz - I can't help thinking the paddock is going to turn into a York City Centre-style lake soon.

Today was the worst day so far - the rain was just relentless. That's made the job a bit difficult, to be honest. I got 10 laps in today, and so did Yvan [Muller, Jason's team-mate], but neither of us went out in the second session because it was just too wet. And that's 75% of our practice gone! We're kind of up against it.

Everything is just sodden and there are rivers all around the circuit because it's just flooding off the mountain - you just don't know where they are. They seem to change every lap, and it's so tricky unless you've got prior local knowledge. It is very much in our minds that we can't bring the car back with the front hanging off, so we can't attack properly - we have to nibble away the times, and that's a time consuming exercise.

The guys at Holden Racing Team have done a fantastic job in giving us a great car, but I get the feeling they're expecting us to crash it at some point. Getting closer to the pace is like drag co-efficient, it's exponential how difficult it gets. If we ding it, I don't think they'd be too pissed about it, because they know what the score is.

I did about six flying laps today and ended up just over 4secs off the pace, which sounds hideous, but [Craig] 'Lowndesy' did a blinding time and so did [Russell] Ingall, and I reckon I could've got into the top ten with a few more risks. But as soon as you get on to the hill, blow me, you've got to hang on to the thing. Hit a puddle and it throws you at the wall.

One reason I was losing time - I wasn't flat on the straight! In fact, I'm having two big lifts. Now, before you think old JP's losing the plot here, I was lifting for the crests because as soon as you go over them the beast just lights up its rear wheels. The second crest is 160mph, and it jumps sideways and tries to fire me off! I'm losing 1.3secs doing it, but I'm bang on in the corners, and there's only a couple of braking zones where I'm being a bit of a girl, mainly on the downhill twisty stuff where you'll crash big style if you make a mistake. So there's time to come, but there's more rain forecast.

There are times in the car when I'm thinking: "what the hell am I doing here?" When the car is jumping around at 160mph, it's like "hello? Smell some coffee! What am I doing this for?" Then, when your heartbeat has dropped by about 40bpm two corners later, you think "I know why, 'cos it's good fun!" Half a lap later, when things get scary again, you're asking yourself the other question again. But it's great fun really.

So, tomorrow, we've got to get into the top 50% for the best qualifying session, and then try and get into the top 10 for the one-lap pole shoot-out on Saturday morning, when the forecast says the rain might have stopped. So, my first dry lap around here could be a one-lap effort for pole on cold tyres...which will be tricky, but I'm game for it. As long as I qualify for it, the worst I can come is 10th!

Jason Plato

Bathurst bares its teeth
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