Jason Plato qualified sixth on the grid for round seven of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, despite a misfire plaguing the BMR Racing Volkswagen CC during the 30-minute encounter.
The two-time BTCC champion, who had topped first free practice on Saturday before a tyre failure pitched him into the barriers entering the final chicane, said that gear issues potentially cost him a front row spot on the grid in a session topped by team-mate, Aron Smith.
The misfire in question meant Plato could not change gear with his foot still on the throttle pedal in qualifying, ending the session 0.3s off Smith’s ultimate best effort but still on row three despite the undesired distraction.
“We’ve been on a bit of a back foot since free practice one to be honest”, Plato told The Checkered Flag, referring back to his accident in the day’s opening session.
“We had an electrical gremlin which we didn’t know about because we weren’t out for free practice two. All the way through [qualifying] I had a gear cut problem, which meant I couldn’t change gear with my foot on the throttle.
“Then it got worse and worse; I was on the radio starting my last flying lap to my engineer trying to reset the system, so I kind of lost the picture in my mind of where everybody was. I looked up and there was a train of cars behind, so as I got out of the throttle you just get stuck in traffic.”
Plato, who picked up his first win for BMR Racing in the last meeting at Donington Park, lamented the lost time caused by the issue, but also expressed relief that the problem was discovered prior to Sunday’s trio of races at the Hampshire circuit.
He continued: “The annoying thing was that I was up on my flying lap, so it certainly cost me P2. But, it’s better the find out now rather than tomorrow.
“The car still feels good. I’m here to win – you always have to think like that.”
Plato praised the performance of his team-mate Smith also, the latter starting from pole position while the sister Volkswagen CC machines of Colin Turkington and Warren Scott will line up ninth and 14th respectively.
Plato concluded: “Fortunately for the team, Aron was right behind me so he got a great tow. It’s good for him because he had a lousy time of it at Donington with car problems.”