Jason Plato was disappointed to miss out on pole position for the second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season at Donington Park, saying a small mistake cost him the top spot in qualifying.
The 2001 and 2010 BTCC champion had topped the day’s two practice sessions on Saturday afternoon at the Leicestershire circuit, but was denied pole position in the dying stages of qualifying by BMR Racing team-mate, Colin Turkington.
The reigning champion ended the session 0.069s quicker than third-placed Plato, who admitted afterwards that a mistake on his concluding lap proved costly enough to deny him pole.
Plato told The Checkered Flag: “I just couldn’t get a rhythm. Lap three into four was always me catching traffic so then I had to back off and let them all get away as well as going offline. When you’re offline, that then also meant my tyres picked up all the dust and rubbish over them.
“We had one last stab at setting the lap time because we bolted a new set of front tyres on and, traditionally, that doesn’t work. To be fair, it didn’t.
“I was up on my lap time and the best part of two tenths heading into the Coppice and I though, I couldn’t just puff around or go steady, so I went for it and made a slight mistake and bit off a bit too much!
“It was a case of lots of purple sectors but none of them adding up to anything.”
The pace of team-mate Turkington was not a surprise to the double champion, Plato adding that second-placed man Gordon Shedden could prove the real threat on Sunday.
“You just have to look at the data and of course, [Turkington] is a world class driver. We’ve lost a little bit because we didn’t quite get the lap in.
“I’m surprised at Gordon actually – he’s got the pace that I’m worried about because of the weight he’s carrying and he’s gained four tenths.”
Plato says that he is confident BMR Racing can emerge from Sunday with victories, pointing more significant importance towards securing a strong grid position for race two through fastest laps from race one.
“We will have to see how everyone shapes up, but I’m going there to win”, Plato said.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the lap times for the grid for race two, but I’m not here to think about coming third and I believe we have the car to just that.”