Jason Plato fired a message of intent to his championship rivals by dominating the second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship practice session at Rockingham.
The two-time champion was almost half a second faster than second-placed Andrew Jordan – and set several laps which would have been good enough for top spot on the time sheets.
The MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 looked equally as comfortable in what is believed to be race trim as it did on the hotlaps, and Plato was heading for an even faster lap before pulling into the pits.
His laptime of 1m22.806s was nearly three-quarters of a second faster than he managed in FP1 but as focus switched to race preparation as well as getting ready for qualifying the MG came into its own, lapping significantly faster than the Honda Civics on Jordan, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden.
As the drivers racked up the laps, Plato was regularly in the mid-to-low 1m23s, faster than the flying laps of the chasing Honda trio. Shedden was third fastest, just over half a second behind Plato, and two-tenths clear of teammate Neal, who clocked up an impressive 20 laps despite his hand injury.
Mat Jackson, aiming to battle for podiums in the NGTC Redstone Racing Ford Focus, spent most of the session in pitlane and on the jacks with a steering rack issue, emerged late to take fifth spot – despite being one of only two drivers to complete less than ten laps.
The other was newcomer Howard Fuller who, while running just outside the top 15, beached his Team-HARD. Civic in the gravel at Gracelands. The 20-year-old’s session was over, though he outpaced the returning Tony Hughes and was only 3.5s off the pace despite completing just seven laps.
Andy Neate and Rob Austin improved their times late on to lap just eight-tenths off Plato’s fastest, with the NGTC machines again on top. The BMW trio of Rob Collard, Tom Onslow-Cole and Nick Foster, as well as Aron Smith in the S2000 Focus, showed strongly early on, comfortably inside the top ten, but faded as the session progressed – Collard the only S2000 runner to finish inside the top ten.