A near-perfect Saturday for MG KX Momentum Racing has the team filled with confidence heading into today’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham.

Jason Plato dominated the free practice sessions and took a comfortable pole position while Andy Neate enjoyed by far his strongest showing of the season and will line up fifth for race one.

Plato is now perfectly placed to take a chunk out of Matt Neal’s championship lead, with the Honda Yuasa Racing driver down in sixth and racing with a broken hand, and is eager to make the most of the opportunity.

“It’s been a great day,” he said yesterday. “Not just for me but for Andy as well. At some race weekends you get in the car and after a few corners you know you have a great car under you.

“The car is still tricky to drive, that’s its Achilles heel, but we’re still improving it which makes it so rewarding when we get a performance out of it like today’s. We’re on course for three great results tomorrow which will get us right back in the hunt for the championship!”

Meanwhile Neate, who set several fastest final sectors in qualifying, is equally optimistic – but was left rueing a small error which he says cost him a spot on the front row.

“I’m happy and sad!” he commented after qualifying. “I should have been on the front row really. My first flying lap wasn’t bad but it wasn’t an all or nothing lap. The second lap was, and I was well up but out-braked myself and clipped a kerb damaging the steering which meant whatever I then did wouldn’t be quick enough.

“I am happy with fifth as I’m in a good place for tomorrow, the car is strong and we have three races ahead of us.”

Team Principal Ian Harrison is keeping his hopes in check however, following the team’s disastrous first race at Knockhill. Avoiding a repeat here is key, he said yesterday:

“Obviously a solid result by the team today, especially for Andy, who has delivered what we always believed he could. Jason is on fire around here which bodes well for race day tomorrow. However, to win any kind of race, you have to finish.

“Our last outing at Knockhill is still fresh in my mind with both cars in the wall after 90 seconds, so I will be reminding the drivers about that in the morning!”