The BTCC’s visit to Oulton Park started in the strongest fashion for Triple Eight‘s MG squad, Jason Plato heading team-mate Sam Tordoff in Saturday morning’s first practice session.
Plato set the pace throughout the weekend’s initial 40-minute session at the Cheshire venue, one that was truncated slightly by two red flag periods early in proceedings, before the former double champion dipped under his own pole position time from last season to cement his top spot.
The first of the two stoppages came when the Eurotech Honda of Jeff Smith clouted the barriers and was forced to nurse his damaged machine back to the pits for repairs, before James Cole brought the restarted action to an immediate halt himself in his HARD Vauxhall Insignia not long after.
The session became a duel between the MG drivers and the trio of remaining Hondas, Gordon Shedden and Yuasa Honda Racing team-mate Matt Neal briefly holding identical times behind their MG rival Plato, before the times began to tumble following the red flag interruptions.
Plato then lay down his final marker of 1m26.227s to top the session, a time that was in fact over six tenths quicker than his own pole position time of last year, before team-mate Tordoff leaped up to second spot, the former Oulton winner in Porsche Carrera Cup GB ending the session 0.380s behind Plato in an MG 1-2.
Shedden was third ahead of Eurotech’s Andrew Jordan, while Colin Turkington invited himself to the party to finish fifth ahead of series leader Neal for eBay Motors. The Toyota Avensis’ of Dave Newsham (Speedworks) and Adam Morgan (Ciceley Racing) were next up ahead of Rob Austin‘s Audi, Frank Wrathall rounding out the top 10 in his Dynojet Toyota.
Lea Wood was comfortably quickest of the five S2000 cars competing this weekend ahead of Liam Griffin, rookie Aaron Mason finishing 23rd on Giriffin’s tail while Joe Girling was forced to miss this weekend’s event.
Second practice gets underway at 12:45 this afternoon, and you can follow the action with us on Twitter at tcfBTCC.