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Jason Plato upbeat despite Saturday issues

Jason Plato was left to rue mechanical issues during qualifying for Round 7 of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, but remained confident of a strong showing in today’s three races.

The two-time champion had set the fastest time during first practice earlier in the day, but went off at the chicane at the end of the session after a left-rear puncture, with the damage eventually forcing him to abandon a full run in the second practice session.

Further issues hampered Plato’s qualifying showing as a gear cut problem limited him to sixth place on the grid, 0.342s behind team-mate and polesitter Aron Smith.

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But speaking to TouringCars.Net, Plato was nevertheless able to see the bright side of his result, and insisted that he was somewhat relieved to have found the problems before today’s three races.

“I was a bit on the back foot from free practice one if I’m honest,” he said. “We also had an electrical gremlin in there [the car] which we didn’t know about because we didn’t do free practice two – that was aborted because we had damage to the steering system from the shunt.

“I’m a little bit disappointed with that because all the way through that session the gear cut, which means you can’t change gear with your foot on the throttle and it got worse, and worse, and worse.

“I was going into my last flying lap on the radio trying to reset the system and I lost the picture in my mind of where everybody was and when I’d eventually tried to reset the thing and it wouldn’t do so, I looked up and there was a train of cars behind – had I then got out the throttle, I would have just got stuck in traffic.

“But Aron was behind me so he got a great tow – but at least he’s on pole.”

“The annoying thing was that I was up on the lap and I had some gear cuts coming out of the chicane, some misfires which cost me P2 – it’s a nuisance, but better to find it now than tomorrow because that can really mess you up on a race.”

The double champion was nevertheless pleased for his team-mate Smith, whom he helped to a maiden pole position in the championship.

“Absolutely – he’s a member of the team,” said Plato, when asked if he was pleased for the Irishman. “I’m pleased I played a role in it in towing him round to give him pole but it’s good for Aron; he had a pretty lousy time at Donington in particular with things going wrong with his car so it’s great.”

And with plenty of time to solve the issues that he had suffered, Plato was adamant that a second victory of the season was in his sights.

“It’s what we go racing for,” he said. “We’re not sat here at this point thinking third will do, you do that in the last three laps of the race.

“At the minute, I want to win.”

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