Jason Plato capped off a perfect Saturday at Rockingham to take pole position for the first of Sunday’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races.

The MG KX Momentum Racing driver’s early benchmark of 1m22.448s proved unbeatable, with Gordon Shedden best of the rest on a 1m23.084s, earning him an extra point as he bids to rein in Matt Neal – who was only sixth – in the championship battle.

Such was his domination – no other driver dipped below 1m23 – that Plato clocked just six laps in the qualifying session, and both MG6s looked strong as Andy Neate completed a strong day for the Triple Eight-run outfit by qualifying fifth.

Behind Plato, the battle was much closer.

One second covered Shedden’s Honda Yuasa Racing Civic in second and Nick Foster‘s eBay Motors BMW in 16th place, with most places decided by mere thousandths of a second.

Tom Onslow-Cole was the first to set a serious time, though was immediately trumped by teammate Rob Collard, who was in turn bested by Frank Wrathall. Plato moved quickly to the top of the timesheets, never headed thereafter, as Shedden assumed second and Andrew Jordan third.

There was little movement elsewhere as the session entered a period of stagnation; plenty of drivers improving on time but not position as the finest margins decided who would best who.

Howard Fuller, making his BTCC debut this weekend, moved from the bottom of the timesheets to 15th, and would later improve to 14th, ahead of the likes of Foster’s BMW and Aron Smith, a disappointing 16th in the S2000 Redstone Racing Ford Focus.

Mat Jackson made a late leap up the timesheets in the NGTC sister Focus to take fourth on the grid, with Collard the top S2000 and RWD runner in 8th.

A disappointing session for the returning Rob Austin Racing team saw Will Bratt sidelined early on with power steering issues, while Rob Austin failed to replicate his strong practice form, finishing down in 12th, just ahead of an equally-frustrated Dave Newsham.

Join us at 11.32am (scheduled) tomorrow for the first of the three races.