The MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save Team had a highly successful qualifying session at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire, with both Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff’s MG6 GTs featuring in the top five places ahead of Sunday's trio of races.
Changeable weather conditions followed an earlier heavy downpour, but the 30-minute qualifying session took place on a drying circuit, albeit with plenty of standing water on the final two sectors of the 2.69-mile International track.
Essentially qualifying was split into two halves after a rival competitor’s off at Druids brought out the red flag with just ten minutes left on the clock. At this point the MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save duo were sitting pretty, locking out the front row with Jason (1:42.977) ahead of Sam (1:43.493) by just half a second.
On the restart the track was flooded, not by rain but by rival competitors all seeking to improve in the remaining ten minutes. At this point Jason had his best lap removed following a track limits violation; this meant his fastest time was now a 1:43.848.
eBay Motors’ Colin Turkington posted a 1:42.310 to take provisional pole and double champion Plato retaliated with a 1:42.959 – six tenths off the BMW driver. Jason’s final attempt was blighted by yet another red flag, and the Oxford-based racer finished up second, ending his two-year run of consecutive pole-positions at Oulton.
Post qualifying Jason added: “I think it would be unfair on Colin to say I’m disappointed not to get pole because Colin’s lap was very good; it would’ve taken a perfect lap to beat it. I think we had a real shot at beating it though, on that last lap I was up on his time and the tyres were coming in, but we’ll never know. It was disappointing to have my earlier lap removed; I think they got the wrong lap actually as I went over the line the next lap, but that’s that. We’ve got good race pace so I’m happy and I think we’ll be challenging for the wins.”
The restart offered Sam little chance to improve too, the JCT600 backed driver dropping to fifth despite valiantly improving to a 1:43.493. After the session the 25-year-old was confident of being a podium contender.
“I do feel we were shafted a bit there, not by anyone or anything, just the circumstances,” remarked Sam. “We were both looking good before the red flag and I just didn’t get the lap I could’ve. I feel we definitely could’ve been top four today, but I’m confident of our chances for the races. We’re looking good for rain or dry conditions; we’ve shown a good dry pace here in qualifying and in FP2 we displayed a great wet set up if it rains. It’s a circuit I enjoy, I’m really looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
Race action gets underway at 12:17, following a pit lane walkabout and autograph session at 10:30, and a driver parade at 11:30. Race two is scheduled to begin at 14:29, with the final race due to start at 16:57. Live coverage of Sunday's races will be shown on ITV4 and itv.com, from 10.30am and MG will have updates from the action on and off the track via Facebook and Twitter.
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