Knockhill BTCC: Plato takes last-gasp pole for his 500th start

Subaru's Jason Plato took pole for his 500th race start in BTCC weekend at Knockhill, setting session's quickest time just as the chequered flag fell, preventing Toyota's Tom Ingram from taking his third pole position of the season.

Knockhill BTCC: Plato takes last-gasp pole for his 500th start

The session was dramatic throughout, with a number of slides, spins and lap deletions during the 30-minute qualifying heat, as well as two red flag stoppages.

The first red flag came after AmD Tuning’s Ollie Jackson crashed his Audi S3 out at Clark’s curve just as Ingram put the Toyota Avensis on provisional pole with a time of 52.106s just five minutes into the session.

When the session resumed, Ingram found more time and broke into the 51s with a time of 51.966s, before the two Subarus then moved ahead with Plato and Colin Turkington moving up to first and second, with Plato setting a time of 51.7s.

Ingram then threw his Toyota wide at Clark’s curve after suffering a puncture, but was able to bring the car back to the pit lane, while there was also a near-miss for Motorbase Performance’s Mat Jackson and Subaru’s Turkington, with both having an off at Duffus Dip.

West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff then put his BMW 125i on provisional pole just before the second red flag stoppage, which came with five minutes to go when Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith buried his Honda Civic in the gravel at Duffus Dip.

A hectic few minutes followed when the session restarted for the last time, with Ingram again placing his Avensis on provisional pole with a time of 51.542s.

But it was a final flyer from Plato that allowed the Team BMR Subaru driver to take his first pole since Oulton Park last year for his 500th race in the championship.

“It’s a great story isn’t it?,” said Plato. “There were a lot of cars out there getting in the way, but it’s the same for everybody.

"Even though you might have them four or five car lengths ahead of you, it’s not enough to really commit…it came on the very last lap, and it was what was needed.”

Plato will start the race ahead of top privateer driver Ingram, while former championship leader Tordoff will start from third on the grid in the West Surrey Racing BMW, with his team-mate Jack Goff alongside him in fourth.

Turkington qualified fifth in the second-best placed of the Subarus, with the Motorbase Ford of Andrew Jordan sixth ahead of Matt Neal’s Honda.

Dave Newsham qualified a strong tenth on his BTCC return with Power Maxed Racing in the Chevrolet Cruze, while reigning champion Gordon Shedden qualified in 11th courtesy of pace he showed earlier in the session in his Honda Civic, with a turbo problem meaning the Scotsman was forced to miss the last half of the session.

Championship leader Rob Collard qualified down in 18th position, carrying 75kg of success ballast in the session.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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Series BTCC
Event Knockhill
Location Knockhill Racing Circuit
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