SEAT Sport UK driver Jason Plato got the final race meeting of the year off to a flying start at Donington Park this afternoon after qualifying his SEAT Toldeo Cupra on pole for Round 28 of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship. Jason set the fastest time during the second of two wet free practice sessions this morning and decided to take a gamble and keep his wet set-up for qualifying this afternoon. It paid off and although towards the end of the session the track started to dry out, Jason had done enough to take his second qualified pole position of the year.
Running with a car with maximum success ballast and 66kgs heavier than Jason’s, team-mate Rob Huff did fantastically well to qualify his Toldeo Cupra in 11th place, putting him in a perfect position to a adopt some race two tactics tomorrow.
Jason said: “That was a great session for us, we found out earlier in the year at Silverstone that the SEAT Toldeo is a good car in the wet and after our performance this morning in free practice we were feeling quite confident that we’d have a good chance to get pole. It was quite a tricky session and we had to make a choice of whether to run with our full wet set-up that we ran in second free practice this morning or go to a ‘slicks half way house’ and we decided to stay on a wet set-up. We were very lucky that it worked for us as another four or five laps and it would have started to get really tough as the track was starting to dry out. As it turned we were able to hold position and it’s a great start to the weekend and a nice way to end the season with another pole position. The other important thing is that pole gives me another point so now I’m only six points behind Anthony Reid, which is great as I really want that third position in the Championship!”
Rob said: “The time is in the car but we just missed it on the tyres unfortunately, another lap out there I think we would have equalled what I’d done earlier and another two laps I think I would have gone quicker again. It’s unfortunate but we had to take the risk of going on to slicks and it almost paid off. I’m not too disappointed as we can do something with eleventh place. I didn’t have a very different set-up to Jason but I think I just missed a lap on the wet tyres because they literally lasted about one lap and that was it. You also have to bear in mind that I’m sixty six kilos heavier than Jason and running with maximum success ballast so taking that into consideration I’m looking good for the rest of the weekend. If it rains tomorrow then things are looking great as I was very quick this morning in the pouring rain. I know the car goes well around here and I go well around here, so to qualify eleventh with a heavy car makes things look very promising for tomorrow.”
The first of three 16 lap BTCC races at Donington starts tomorrow at 11.20, 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 16.40.