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Plato heads the champions in opening BTCC practice at Brands

Saturday, March 29 2014

Jason Plato headed four of his fellow champions in first practice for this weekend's opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch today (Saturday). Just one second covered 22 cars in a highly competitive start to the 2014 championship.

Amid a huge sense of anticipation, 29 cars headed out of the pitlane, with the sole Welch Motorsport car unable to join in at this early stage. The early pace was set by Mat Jackson's Airwaves Focus and Adam Morgan's WIX Mercedes, then Dave Newsham became the third man to lap the Indy circuit under 50 seconds, highly encouraging for his AmD team.

Once the major players had got up to speed, reigning champion Andrew Jordan and Honda's Gordon Shedden topped the times, lowering the benchmark by a second. Alain Menu then posted the third fastest time, just two hundredths away from Shedden, but the session was halted for a medical emergency in the pitlane, with one of the eBay Motors crew being taken ill.

Morgan was quick when the session got back underway, proving that the pace of the A-Class is genuine, followed by Aron Smith and Plato near the top of the times, still led by the current champion at this stage. Not for long, however, for the MG went quickest by a couple of tenths shortly afterwards.

With 15 minutes remaining, Colin Turkington brought his BMW into play, taking second spot in the order, and team mate Rob Collard held sixth place. Meanwhile the works Honda Tourers were lacking a bit of speed, with Matt Neal and Shedden sitting at the lower end of the top ten.

There was little change in the order as the session began to head towards its conclusion, however a significant improvement came from Neal, who posted the fourth fastest time, just under three tenths shy of Plato. This meant that four champions headed the order, with Shedden ninth, Menu tenth and Fabrizio Giovanardi 16th, one place behind team mate Jackson.

Morgan was impressed with the pace of his Mercedes, whilst the BMR Passats were also very quick at this stage. The second practice session will take place at 12:40 today.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship First Practice
1, Jason Plato, MG, 48.354s
2, Colin Turkington, eBay Motors, BMW, +0.176s
3, Andrew Jordan, Pirtek, Honda, +0.203s
4, Matt Neal, Honda Racing, +0273s
5, Adam Morgan, WIX Racing, Mercedes, +0.330s
6, Aron Smith, BMR, VW, +0.429s
7, Rob Collard, eBay Motors, BMW, +0.433s
8, Sam Tordoff, MG, +0.455s
9, Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing, +0.511s
10, Alain Menu, BMR, VW, +0.530s

Tickets for the opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on 29/30 March are available on the gate for £14 on Saturday and £32 on Sunday, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.