Last to the line for pole man Jason Plato in frantic Knockhill...

Last to the line for pole man Jason Plato in frantic Knockhill qualifying

Jason Plato
Photo: Network Images

Subaru’s Jason Plato scored his first pole position of the season in a frantic British Touring Car Championship qualifying session at Knockhill, as the times tumbled at the end of the session on a drying circuit.

The session began on a wet track following a rain shower just before the start, with the initial times coming in at around 56 to 57 seconds.

However, the session really came alive after the second of two red-flag stoppages, needed in order to retrieve knocked over advertising hoardings, with around five minutes to go.

Just before the second stoppage a number of drivers had begun to experiment with slick tyres, but the pause allowed the entire field to try out the optimum rubber in a last-to-the-flag showdown.

The top time changed no less than ten times in the final four minutes of the session, with Plato claiming his 50th career pole at the very end, being one of the last to cross the finish line.

Plato will be joined on the front row of the grid by championship challenging team-mate Ash Sutton, who was consistently at or near the top of the times in the session, even in wet conditions.

BMW duo Colin Turkington and Rob Collard were third and fourth respectively, despite the latter having had an issue with his car early in the session when smoke started billowing out of the engine bay.

Collard, who had briefly been fastest before being pipped in the final seconds, secured his best qualifying effort since Croft in 2015.

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram was the leading front-wheel drive racer in fifth, ahead of a career-best qualifying effort from Subaru’s James Cole in sixth.

Also enjoying his best-ever qualifying result was Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Proctor in seventh, who cracked the top ten for the first time in his career.

BTC Racing’s Dave Newsham was eighth, despite saving a huge slide in the session, whilst championship leader Gordon Shedden and Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan completed the top ten.

The rapidly changing nature of the final seconds left some big names down at the back end of the field – notably Honda’s Matt Neal could only manage 21st, whilst Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin was 23rd having had his lap times deleted earlier in the session for failing the ride height check.

The second Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall of Tom Chilton had been fastest with two minutes to go, but he ended up down in 18th, highlighting the rapidly-changing nature of the session.

Laser Tools Racing’s local racer Aiden Moffat was just 27th quickest despite showing strong pace in practice earlier in the day.

Q1 results

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 99 M Jason PLATO Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg GT 22 52.579 0.000
2 116 M Ashley SUTTON Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg GT 18 52.668 0.089
3 4 M Colin TURKINGTON Team BMW BMW 125i M Sport 24 52.912 0.333
4 5 M Rob COLLARD Team BMW BMW 125i M Sport 15 53.204 0.625
5 80 Tom INGRAM Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 23 53.273 0.694
6 20 M James COLE Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg GT 25 53.360 0.781
7 18 M Senna PROCTOR Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra 22 53.371 0.792
8 17 Dave NEWSHAM BTC Norlin Racing Chevrolet Cruze 23 53.476 0.897
9 52 M Gordon SHEDDEN Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 21 53.487 0.908
10 33 Adam MORGAN Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class 15 53.507 0.928
11 66 Josh COOK MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT 25 53.637 1.058
12 3 Mat JACKSON Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo Ford Focus 23 53.639 1.060
13 10 Ant WHORTON-EALES AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3 22 53.643 1.064
14 40 M Árón TAYLOR-SMITH MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT 23 53.736 1.157
15 31 Jack GOFF Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R 26 53.776 1.197
16 24 Jake HILL TAG Racing Volkswagen CC 23 53.836 1.257
17 77 M Andrew JORDAN BMW Pirtek Racing BMW 125i M Sport 25 53.843 1.264
18 2 M Tom CHILTON Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra 19 53.857 1.278
19 28 M Josh PRICE A-Plan Academy Subaru Levorg GT 18 53.859 1.280
20 7 Stephen JELLEY Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus 24 53.949 1.370
21 25 M Matt NEAL Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 20 53.957 1.378
22 303 M Matt SIMPSON Simpson Racing Honda Civic Type R 21 54.056 1.477
23 11 Rob AUSTIN Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis 16 54.260 1.681
24 22 Chris SMILEY BTC Norlin Racing Chevrolet Cruze 22 54.284 1.705
25 6 Rory BUTCHER Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo Ford Focus 19 54.494 1.915
26 61 Will BURNS Autoaid / RCIB Insurance Racing Volkswagen CC 20 54.498 1.919
27 16 Aiden MOFFAT Laser Tools Racing Mercedes-Benz A-Class 18 54.639 2.060
28 12 Mike EPPS Autoaid / RCIB Insurance Racing Volkswagen CC 22 54.730 2.151
29 39 Brett SMITH Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R 24 54.935 2.356
30 48 Ollie JACKSON AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts Audi S3 16 55.170 2.591
31 30 Martin DEPPER Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo Ford Focus 23 55.439 2.860
32 95 Stewart LINES Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus 23 57.039 4.460