Plato on Silverstone pole

AT SILVERSTONE AS TITLE RIVAL FABRIZIO GIOVANARDI STRUGGLES

Jason Plato boosted his title hopes by securing pole position for the first of Sunday's three HiQ British Touring Car Championship rounds at Silverstone. With six races remaining on the 2008 calendar, the SEAT Sport UK driver trails VX Racing's reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi by 40-points but with the Italian only qualifying in a lowly 11th position, Plato is well placed to make significant in-roads into the Italian's series lead.

"This is a great result for SEAT," enthused Plato whose Leon TDi tam-mate Darren Turner lines up alongside on the front of the grid. "All I can do is to keep winning and to hope Fabrizio has some bad luck... and starting back there in 11th, he's in the zone where anything can happen in touring cars."

Giovanardi was mystified about his lowly qualifying position. "We've lost grip and chassis balance," reported the defending champion. "I'm not worried about starting so far back as long as we can find out where the performance has gone."

Colin Turkington was the fastest of the Independent drivers, lining up third in his BMW behind the two pace-setting SEATs. The Team RAC ace still harbours his own title hopes and currently holds third place in the overall championship as well as retaining his Independent crown. With his closest title rival Mat Jackson (BMW Dealer Team UK) only qualifying 14th, Turkington will have a great opportunity to extend his advantage.

Steven Kane continued Motorbase's impressive recent form with the sixth fastest time, while both Stephen Jelley (Team RAC) and Harry Vaulkhard (Robertshaw Racing) qualified seventh and eighth respectively - a career best for all three drivers.

In addition to tomorrow's three headlining BTCC races, there will be another seven races from a variety of supporting series for fans to savour at Silverstone.

Car parking and admission for children aged 15 and under is FREE. There is also FREE public access to the BTCC paddock and the hugely popular Pit Lane Walkabout session when fans can meet the BTCC's star drivers for autographs, photos and give-aways.

Top ten qualifying times, BTCC Silverstone

1. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon TDi, 1m 00.327s (97.80mph)

2. Darren Turner (GBR). SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon TDi, +0.144s

3. Colin Turkington (GBR), Team RAC/BMW 320si, +0.286s

4. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Vectra VXR, +0.368s

5. Matt Neal (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Vectra VXR, +0.516s

6. Steven Kane (GBR), Motorbase/BMW 320si, +0.673s

7. Stephen Jelley (GBR), Team RAC/BMW 320si, +0.680s

8. Harry Vaulkhard (GBR), Robertshaw Racing/Chevrolet Lacetti, +0.712s

9. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Civic, +0.808s

10. Andrew Jordan (GBR), John Guest Racing/Honda Integra, +0.831s

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