SEAT Sport UK drivers Robert Huff and Jason Plato have qualified their SEAT Toledo Cupras in 5th and 9th positions respectively ahead of tomorrow’s Round 16 of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft.
Another 5th position equals Rob’s best ever qualifying position for SEAT and the reigning SEAT Cupra Champion managed to set his fastest time of 1:26.141 during his first few flying laps of the 30 minute session. Despite enjoying a good free practice session this morning - running as high as 5th fastest - team-mate Jason couldn’t quite find the kind of pace he wanted to on his new tyres during qualifying. Nonetheless a solid 9th grid slot puts him in an ideal position for some tactical race play tomorrow.
Jason said: “Overall that was quite a good qualifying session for the team. I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to as for some reason we just haven’t got the balance in the car that we did this morning. We changed a couple of things which we thought were for the better, and when we did a set down we found that the set-up of the car wasn’t quite where we thought it was so we put it back to where we thought it should be and for some reason we’ve taken a bit of pace out of the car. The really odd thing is I couldn’t find any benefit on new tyres. I only went half a tenth quicker on new rubber than on this morning’s tyres which had nearly done a full race distance and yet Rob managed to find six tenths in his new tyres which is really strange. It’s a bit of a mystery but tonight we’ll have to sit down and go through all the data and see what we can do. I’m looking forward to tomorrow but we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then.”
Rob said: “On the first flying lap of the session it all came together and I managed to hook up a good lap time - the car just worked well and felt good. I had a little bit of a lock up down the back straight which I think cost me a tenth of a second but I don’t think that extra tenth would have gained me an extra position so overall I’m pretty pleased with fifth. On my second run out, as I took the chicane and was on the power the car was pushing on a little bit - probably because I took a different line to help me get a bit more pace through the corner - I clipped the tyres and must have damaged my steering slightly because from then on every time I tried to turn right the car wanted to go straight on and understeer, which meant that I couldn’t get anywhere near the time I’d done earlier in the session. I will try and go for it to start with tomorrow and if that doesn’t work then I’ll more than likely drop back to secure a good grid position for the second race - but I’m pretty confident that with the set up we’ve got I’ll be able to go for it.”
The first of three 15 lap BTCC races starts tomorrow at 12.10, the result of which will determine the grid positions for Race 2 – where the top 10 finishers start in reverse order. Race 2 starts at 14.40 and the results of that race will determine the grid positions for Race 3, which begins at 17.35.