500 Not Out – Jason Plato claims Knockhill Pole

In his five-hundredth BTCC start, Team BMR’s Jason Plato has claimed Pole Position at Knockhill.

It was Plato’s first Pole Position of the 2016 British Touring Car Championship season, breaking the Knockhill Qualifying lap record set by Andy Priaulx last year in the BMW with a 51.521 right at the end of the session.

As it’s a short lap around the Knockhill circuit, the times came tumbling down during the session. The first red flag came in eight minutes into Qualifying as Ollie Jackson’s AmD Tuning.com Audi S3 went off at Railway Bend. Luckily, the Audi was able to continue despite having to make a trip to the pits.

Since the battle for Pole Position changed hands throughout the session, Team JCT600 with GardX’s Sam Tordoff was the first to break Priaulx’s lap record with a 51.551, putting him in provisional Pole Position as Qualifying reached its final stages.

However, there was to be another red flag, nearly four minutes till the end of Qualifying with Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith, having his Honda Civic beached in the gravel. Drivers were jockeying in the final minutes of qualifying for position to improve their current lap times.

Plato delivered the final blow when the chequered flag came out in the Subaru Levorg to go into Pole Position and break last year’s lap record by over +0.175 of a second.

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram was second, ahead of Tordoff who carried 66 kilograms of success ballast in third. The Yorkshireman’s team-mate Jack Goff was fourth, while Plato’s team-mate Colin Turkington qualified in fifth place.

Team JCT600 with GardX's Sam Tordoff starts third on Sunday's Race 1 at Knockhill. Credit: BTCC Media
Team JCT600 with GardX’s Sam Tordoff starts third on the grid for Sunday’s Race 1 at Knockhill. Credit: BTCC Media

Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan in sixth, while Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal was seventh. WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan qualified eighth, while Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin and BTCC-returnee Dave Newsham in the Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze were ninth and tenth respectively.

Gordon Shedden on his home circuit, could only muster eleventh place on the grid despite carrying a turbo boost leak problem. Championship Leader Robert Collard qualified eighteenth, despite carrying 75 kilograms of success ballast and having one of his qualifying lap times deleted for exceeding track limits.

Ollie Jackson after his off early on in the session, starts from the back of the grid alongside Team BKR’s Mark Howard in thirtieth and thirty-first places respectively.