Top 7 are all in the 1:17′s! Both Jason and Darren are racing with 36kgs of ballast.
Jason Plato and Darren Turner will start Round 10 of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship tomorrow at Thruxton from 6th and 7th places on the grid respectively, after struggling to find the perfect set-up for the SEAT Sport UK Leon TDI in qualifying.
Having achieved the best lap time possible with an unbalanced car and 36kgs of success ballast, Jason knew that he couldn’t better the 1:17.779 that put him in 6th place. With qualifying time remaining, he returned to the track to scrub in the new slick tyres that he’s planning to use in tomorrow’s opening race. After one lap he came into the pits on schedule; but because the tyres were still cold and they hadn’t reached their optimum working temperature and expanded accordingly, the car failed the ride height test – the penalty being all of Jason’s qualifying times to that point were disallowed. Jason had just enough time to go out for one more flying qualifying lap and record a 1:17.811, which put him back in 6th position.
Darren set an initial time of 1:17.847, but his spectacular efforts at the final chicane showcased the balance problems he was also experiencing with his Holiday Inn backed Leon TDI. He was unable to improve his early time and qualified 7th.
Jason Plato said: “It’s very difficult to find the sweet spot with the diesel package we have. We’ve been both sides of it today, one side in Free Practice 1 and the other side in Free Practice 2, and we tried to be in the middle for qualifying. If we could dial a little more understeer out of the car we’d be three or four tenths of a second quicker around Thruxton, but at the moment we’re losing a little bit of time in every corner. We have to analyse everything in so much detail, we’re finding it difficult to find the answers at the moment.”
Darren Turner: “We came to Thruxton with high expectations and hoping to be fast in every session today, but instead it’s been very frustrating. I don’t think our race pace will be too shabby, but in qualifying trim the car was very difficult to drive; I made a few mistakes because of it and didn’t string a really good lap together. The plan now is to try and make a good start, get in the mix early and see what happens during the first race.”
Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BTCC take place tomorrow, with the three 16-lap races around the 2.356 mile Thruxton Circuit starting at 10.55, 14.10 and 16.50. ITV4 will have extensive live coverage between 12.30pm-5.30pm.
BTCC Round 10 Qualifying Times
1. Tom Onslow-Cole (Vauxhall Vectra)…1:17.165
2. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Vectra)… 1:17.426
3. Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic)… 1:17.516
4. Matt Neal (Vauxhall Vectra)… 1:17.525
5. Tom Chilton (Honda Civic)… 1:17.712
6. Jason Plato (SEAT Leon TDI)…1:17.811
7. Darren Turner (SEAT Leon TDI)… 1:17.847