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Knockhill BTCC: Plato claims 50th career pole, first of 2017 season

Jason Plato BTCC Knockhill 2017

Jason Plato secured his 50th British Touring Car Championship qualifying pole and his first for a year with the fastest time in a frenetic end to Saturday's session at Knockhill.

The Team BMR driver dragged his Subaru Levorg to the fastest time after the chequered flag had fallen, usurping team-mate and championship hopeful Ash Sutton as a late switch to slicks for the majority resulted in a raft of late improvements.

Plato's pole had initially been provisional and subject to an investigation, but was later confirmed after officials deemed his lap legal.

Sutton had been the pacesetter in the early part of the session, leading the way with an initial best of 56.517s as drivers ventured out on wet tyres with the circuit still damp after an afternoon shower.

Sutton rotated on one of his flying laps but was able to resume and went faster still before a red flag to re-place an advertising hoarding.

Few drivers managed to improve between that red flag and another stoppage to swap the hoarding altogether, but by the time the second red flag period had ended drivers started to try slicks.

Gordon Shedden had briefly set the pace on dry tyres in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R but the rear-wheel drive powered cars soon came to the fore, with Sutton and team-mate Plato heading to the sharp end of the grid.

A number of improvements pushed them back down the order before the chequered flag fell but Sutton leapt back to the top of the times with his final lap, only for Plato to deny by 0.089 seconds.

It was the first pole Plato has achieved in the BTCC since the championship visited the Scottish circuit last season.

Jason Plato BTCC Knockhill 2017

"My car still isn't great in the dry - we were missing out at the Chicane and into Clark's - but I was able to control the pace in the mixed conditions and that played to my strength with my experience," said Plato.

"I am pleased with pole, but I am mindful that I need to help Ash Sutton's position in the championship tomorrow."

Behind the Levorg pair, WSR BMW duo Colin Turkington and Rob Collard will share the second row of the grid for Sunday's opening race in their 125i M Sports.

Neither driver had an answer to the pace of the Subaru pair, with Turkington a third of a second off the pole-setting effort and Collard some six tenths down.

Tom Ingram was the best-placed of the front-wheel drive runners in fifth in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis, ahead of the third Team BMR Levorg of James Cole and Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra driver Senna Proctor.

Dave Newsham was eighth in his Chevrolet Cruze ahead of championship leader Gordon Shedden, while Adam Morgan (Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A-Class) completed the top 10.

Qualifying result

1Jason PlatoTeam BMRSubaru52.579s
2Ash SuttonTeam BMRSubaru0.089s
3Colin TurkingtonWSRBMW0.333s
4Rob CollardWSRBMW0.625s
5Tom IngramSpeedworks MotorsportToyota0.694s
6James ColeTeam BMRSubaru0.781s
7Senna ProctorPower Maxed RacingVauxhall0.792s
8Dave NewshamBTC RacingChevrolet0.897s
9Gordon SheddenDynamics/HondaHonda0.908s
10Adam MorganCiceley RacingMercedes0.928s
11Josh CookTriple Eight/MGMG1.058s
12Mat JacksonMotorbaseFord1.060s
13Ant Whorton-EalesAmD TuningAudi1.064s
14Aron Taylor-SmithTriple Eight/MGMG1.157s
15Jack GoffEurotech RacingHonda1.197s
16Jake HillTeam HardVolkswagen1.257s
17Andrew JordanWSRBMW1.264s
18Tom ChiltonPower Maxed RacingVauxhall1.278s
19Josh PriceTeam BMRSubaru1.280s
20Stephen JelleyTeam Parker RacingFord1.370s
21Matt NealDynamics/HondaHonda1.378s
22Matt SimpsonDynamics/HondaHonda1.477s
23Rob AustinHandy MotorsportToyota1.681s
24Chris SmileyBTC RacingChevrolet1.705s
25Rory ButcherMotorbaseFord1.915s
26Will BurnsTeam HardVolkswagen1.919s
27Aiden MoffatLaser Tools RacingMercedes2.060s
28Michael EppsTeam HardVolkswagen2.151s
29Brett SmithEurotech RacingHonda2.356s
30Ollie JacksonAmD TuningAudi2.591s
31Martin DepperMotorbaseFord2.860s
32Stewart LinesMaximum MotorsportFord4.460s

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