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Plato carries momentum to set the early pace at Brands Hatch

Saturday, March 30 2013

Jason Plato set the pace in first practice ahead of this weekend's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch today (Saturday). He led a trio of Hondas, with reigning champion Gordon Shedden second.

Honda Racing began the year as they left off, with Shedden and Matt Neal setting the early pace but the teams were still dialling into the conditions, with many trying out the new softer Dunlop option tyre. Next Rob Austin, and then Frank Wrathall topped the list, albeit more than two seconds slower than last year's pole position at this early stage.

First driver under 50 seconds was Plato in the MG, and he continued to lower the benchmark, now just a few hundredths shy of Dave Newsham's 2012 pole time, set in an S2000-spec car. On the subject of the older cars, the opening moments gave newcomers Joe Girling and Warren Scott a chance to shine, with top ten positions whilst the rest of the field began to catch up.

Joining Plato at the top before long was reigning champion Shedden, with Jeff Smith a surprise third ahead of team mate Andrew Jordan. Then Colin Turkington placed the brand new BMW 1-Series fifth, sixth tenths shy of the leading car, and with the other two eBay Motors runners in the top ten at this moment, the early omens were good for the newcomers.

As the session evolved, an element of stability prevailed, with Neal the only notable improver, up to sixth place. Plato retained the top spot, but Jordan had leap-frogged his team mate to re-establish his authority.

In the lower order, Dave Newsham held a place in the top ten before pitting with a cooling issue, whilst Plato's team mate Tordoff also had issues, curtailing his early promise. Airwaves Racing's pairing were only in the top twenty. Neighbours Team HARD. were relieved just to be in the session after a tough week getting three of their four cars ready for the race.

In the Jack Sears Trophy class, Girling was fastest in 18th place, just over a tenth ahead of Scott, with Lea Wood a couple of seconds behind. Practice two takes place at 12:40 today.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Practice 1

1, Jason Plato, MG KX Momentum Racing, MG6, 48.510s
2, Gordon Shedden, Honda Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic, +0.155s
3, Andrew Jordan, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, +0.215s
4, Jeff Smith, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, +0.252s
5, Colin Turkington, eBay Motors, BMW 125i M Sport, +0.468s
6, Matt Neal, Honda Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic, +0.646s
7, Frank Wrathall, Dynojet, Toyota Avensis, +0.660s
8, Rob Austin,  WIX Racing, Audi A4, +0.942s
9, Rob Collard, eBay Motors, BMW 125i M Sport, +0.959
10, Dave Newsham, Speedworks Motorsport, Toyota Avensis, +0.979s

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch are available on the gate from £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.