SEAT Sport UK drivers Rob Huff and Jason Plato have qualified their Toledo Cupras in 7th and 10th places respectively for the first of tomorrow’s three Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Brands Hatch.
Running on the shortest circuit on the BTCC calendar, less than one second separates the top 16 cars as they qualified around the 1.2262 mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. Race car set-up is essential on such a track, as any minor adjustments are magnified on the time sheets.
Although SEAT Sport UK was aiming to qualify further up the grid, Rob’s 7th place is only 0.375 seconds behind the pole-sitter, while Jason is 0.456 seconds behind. Their average speeds around the famous Kent circuit are also very similar, with Rob clocking 88.80mph and Jason 88.66mph.
Rob said: “That was a good session really. I managed to get three or four good laps in during qualifying, which were all roughly equal to my quickest lap. I was on an even better lap, about a tenth and a half up on my time, when Anthony Reid got in the way on the last corner, so that was a bit frustrating. This circuit’s a bit of a strange one really in that it seems to hurt your rear tyres as much as your fronts, which not many circuits tend to do. We kept coming in and bolting front tyres on and the balance seemed to stay in the car which was nice. This circuit really makes you work hard as it’s such a short lap, but the SEAT works well here because it’s quite easy to drive consistently. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and we’ll see what happens off the start line.”
Jason said: “I’m quite disappointed with my qualifying session really. The trouble is you have to keep trying to improve the car and we’ve been experimenting with set-up to try and do this all day. We were struggling with a bit of oversteer all the way through the second free practice session. We tried to cure it while at the same time saving the tyres by not putting any new ones on and by doing this we gave the back of the car too much grip, which meant we then had understeer and lost the balance a bit. It’s so tight around here that a little change to the car either way can be a tenth and a half. I got the max out of the set-up we had, but I just think we messed up the settings really by changing too many things and being a bit too adventurous. I expected to be in the top five to be honest – but then it’s only a tenth extra that would have put me there so it’s one of those things really.”
The first of three 24 lap BTCC races at Brands Hatch starts tomorrow at 10.45, 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 13.40 and the results of that race will determine the grid positions for Race 3, which begins at 16.07.