Jason Plato set a qualifying lap record to grab pole position for the first of tomorrow’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

Plato left it right until the end of a highly exciting session to post a best time of 1m26.872s in his KX Momentum Racing MG6 and pip arch rival Matt Neal to pole by just 0.077s. Neal’s time of 1m26.949s in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic was also beneath the old record.

So too were the times set by Robert Collard, third in his eBay Motors BMW and Andrew Jordan, fourth in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.

Significantly, all these times were set in less than ideal track conditions with a number of damp patches still on the circuit. Furthermore, championship leader Plato’s time was set in a car carrying the maximum 45kgs of success ballast.

The former double Champion from Oxford commented: “I put the team under a bit of pressure in that session – I ran wide at Lodge corner on my first run and on my second was off the track and through the puddles at Cascades. It all came down to that final run – Matt had just set a very good time but we thought it still might just be possible so it was all or nothing on that last lap.”

Worcestershire’s Neal, the reigning Champion, added: “I was on track at the end and I knew Jason was as well – I was sure he had something up his sleeve and suddenly the team started telling me over the radio he was setting best sector times. I was warming up a new set of tyres for what was going to be my final run but couldn’t get across the line in time to respond.”

And said Hampshire’s Collard: “I’m very happy with third. All I need now is one of my demon starts tomorrow but it’s a very narrow circuit at Oulton – I went from fifth to first at Donington Park but whether I can squeeze between Jason and Matt at the start here… I think that gap might close very quickly.”

Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden was fifth fastest while, just a few places behind, Daniel Welch qualified a career-best eighth in his Welch Motorsport Proton Persona. 

Canada Qualifying


Car 1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: POLE POSITION, (3rd Practice – P1, 1:14.442)

“We were clear about the car today and able to improve step by step in qualifying. I’m very happy

with the result and the laps at the end of qualifying, as we were able to improve each time. It puts us in

a great place, but nevertheless tomorrow is more important. We put ourselves in a good position, eight

metres ahead of Lewis and then we go from there. It’s supposed to be hotter tomorrow, so it’s important

to get a good start and see what we can do. A lot of things can happen.”


Car 2 MARK WEBBER, Position: 4th, (3rd Practice – P4, 1:14.724)

“I’m surprised I’m in fourth – it wasn’t the smoothest session, so I’m actually quite surprised to be there. I

wasn’t super happy with the last few runs in terms of confidence in the car and that means you don’t

get the most out of yourself, so fourth is okay. It’s a long race and we’re up there. Seb did a very good

lap. The car’s good here and the weather should be good tomorrow for the race.”


CHRISTIAN HORNER: “A strong team performance today. Sebastian looked really competitive

throughout qualifying, going quickest on his first run in Q3 and improving slightly on his second run to

take pole position for tomorrow. Mark also had a strong qualifying and will line up on the second row

of the grid, we had a small issue with a tyre blanket on his last run, but nonetheless he did an excellent

job and to be starting on pole and the second row is a great for tomorrow’s grand prix.”


(Renault) CYRIL DUMONT: “What a lap from Sebastian today, it was very solid. Mark was a bit

behind, but I think he will be up there tomorrow also. It’s good how the team has reacted to the start of

the season and got the pole today. Engine-wise, we know there are many straights on this circuit so it

works the engine a lot. There is also the hairpin which is difficult as it has a low RPM; it’s not that easy

but we managed it quite well and we got this result.”

Motorsports Mondial


Kimi Räikkönen: “It was an okay day for us. We expected rain in the afternoon so we used the super soft tyres in the morning to make sure we could do some long runs, and we completed everything we needed to do today as the rain didn’t come until later. I’m not 100% happy with my setup and I think we’re missing a trick somewhere. It’s not a major issue, but I know we can go faster. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow, anything can happen and hopefully it’s a little warmer as that usually seems to help.”

Romain Grosjean: “Today was my first time at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and I really enjoyed it. It’s not an easy track, and the weather wasn’t what we’re expecting for the rest of the weekend so it’s a shame not to get some running in warmer conditions. We’ve spent a lot of time learning how the car behaves here and trying a few different things with the setup. We have a good amount of data, but obviously we’ll need to work just as hard tomorrow if the temperatures are higher. The car felt good and we did a few laps on the super soft tyres as well, so overall it was quite a useful day.”

Pastor Maldonado: We completed all of the things that we had planned for the session so we have had a productive day and are in a good place heading into the weekend. We still need to work on the set-up to get the right balance, but overall the car felt good and was consistent, particularly on the long runs. We have also brought some upgrades to this race and they were performing well which is encouraging.

Bruno Senna: It was a difficult day today. I had DRS issues during the morning session and have limited experience of this circuit so today was about getting my eye in and seeing how far I can push the car. Obviously I pushed too hard towards the end of P2 and hit the wall, which is disappointing. Nevertheless we have made some improvements on the overall package and tomorrow morning I can go out and try to fine tune the set-up to get a good result on Sunday.

Paul Di Resta: “The weather was a bit of a worry today with the constant threat of rain so we had a very busy morning and probably did more laps in FP1 than we normally would. The initial baseline of the car was good and we worked on improving things further with each run. By the end of the day I was very happy with the feel of the car in terms of balance. Of course the ambient conditions are expected to change overnight and we need to see how that impacts us tomorrow, but based on today’s performance I think we can target Q3 if everything comes together.” 

Nico Hulkenberg: “I enjoyed both sessions and ended the day with a very positive feeling. The balance of the car is where we want it to be and the changes we made to during the lunch break seemed to take us in the right direction. There is still a lot of homework to do this evening and room to improve things further, but it’s been a good start to the weekend.”

Michael Schumacher: “Our work was pretty typical of a normal Friday, however we used the softer tyre this morning to make sure that we could complete our full programme in case of rain later on. This afternoon, we then concentrated more on the set-up and balance. I had a good feeling in the car but it’s too early to make any predictions for the weekend so we will have a good look at all the data this evening and go from there. I really enjoy this track so it’s nice to drive here again.”

Nico Rosberg: “We had a good day today, although the track temperatures were quite cold which should not be the same over the weekend. This made it a little more difficult to warm up the tyres, but we were able to collect some good data on our long runs and have a lot of information to look at. It’s a great track here and I’m really enjoying being in Montreal.”

F1Weekly podcast # 581

The FIA Formula One World Championship passes now from the slowest track on the calendar to the circuit with the quickest lap time of the year; the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, host to the Canadian Grand Prix. A lap of the 4.361km track takes just 75 seconds on average, the quickest single lap time of the season.

Renault has a rich heritage at the Canadian Grand Prix, having won the event at Montreal four times. In fact the first-ever Williams-Renault victory was recorded in Montreal in 1989 by Thierry Boutsen and was followed by a further two wins for the partnership in 1993 and 1996 by Alain Prost and Damon Hill respectively. Fernando Alonso then won in 2006 with the Renault F1 Team.

The long straights of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve require a low downforce package, however the tight hairpin and chicane that bookend the lap demand stability under braking. As such the RS27 must combine good top end power with effective engine braking and pick up on the entry and exits to the corners.

Wind direction can have a strong influence on 7th gear selection. Due to the circuit’s location in the middle of the St Lawrence Seaway, the conditions are notoriously changeable so there is a greater element of risk involved in choosing the right ratios. Get the selection wrong and you will be at a deficit on the straights.

The start/finish straight leads into a smooth left hander that turns into a spoon profiled corner. The engine has to be very smooth through this section without any peaks as engine revs will be at approximately 11,000rpm for five seconds, the longest consistently low setting of the lap.

Sector two is relatively start stop, with the chicane of turns six and seven and the flick of eight and nine. Drivers will try to clip the kerbs in this section to shorten the length so the engine needs to be extremely responsive under braking and on the apexes – this is the longest sector in turns of time.

The hairpin sees cars brake down to a little under 60kph before accelerating onto the long 1,046m straight to turn 13 and the infamous ‘Wall of Champions.’ Drivers will reach speeds of over 320kph with DRS open in qualifying and over 300kph in the race, so engine maps will be calibrated to give the driver good pick up from the exit but reach vMax near the end of the straight.

The heavy braking zones of the hairpin and chicane may require effective engine braking but are also the opportunity to keep the KERS system fully charged. This can then potentially be discharged twice on the straight as the energy counter resets. The high power sensitivity of this track also increases the KERS benefit over the non-KERS equipped cars.

Bruno Senna, Williams F1 Team

It goes without saying that good top end power is important for that long straight, but just as important is the torque response for the short bursts of acceleration, particularly from turn 3 to 9, which is quite stop-start. We need the engine to be extremely responsive – you can win or lose a lot of time if the power delivery is not completely on point. Engine braking is also important going into the chicane and the hairpin, especially as we will be entering the corners from very high speed. Canada is a really enjoyable track to drive but you need to be very precise through every corner as the walls are very close and there is a lot of dirt and rubber off line.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:

Monaco and Canada are vastly different tracks, with Montreal having one of the highest power factors of the season. It’s not as high on the percentage of wide open throttle time as Monza or Spa, but the circuit’s long straights demand good top end power for a large proportion of the lap.

Allied with the heavy braking zones of the hairpin and chicane, the RS27 also needs to deliver effective engine braking: this track is rightly called an ‘engine breaker’ as the engine doesn’t get any respite at all. The challenge is therefore to find the right balance between delivering maximum performance and maintaining 100% reliability, just like at Spa and Monza where the risks have to justify the gains.

Along with Australia, the race starting fuel load will be one of the highest of the season, although this will be governed to a certain extent by race strategy and the weather, which – as we know from last year – can be extremely changeable. Montreal may not be as unique as Monaco in terms of preparation but having the right settings can make the difference between starting towards the front and in the midfield, particularly with the field being so close this season.

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Motorsports Mondial


Enaam takes abkc o plate title in cumbria

Enaam took his biggest win to date on the 4th June 2012, claiming the British Open Championship a Rowrah, in Cumbria.

The 12 year old had a difficult start the weekend, being unusually off the pace in Friday testing. The Fusionteam worked hard to get to the root of the problems, and by Saturday afternoon Enaam was back on top of the time sheets, setting fastest lap in the final two sessions before Qualifying.

A disappointing qualifying session, saw Enaam post 5th fastest time, but only 0.15s off pole despite not getting a tow and an in-balance in the control tyres.

In his first heat, Enaam drove well to put himself in 2nd position on the final lap before he was shoved wide on the last corner and dropped to 5th. The Fusion driver secured 2nd in Heat 2 to qualify 3rd on the Grid for the Pre- Final behind team mates Josh Smith and Oliver York.

On Monday’s Pre-Final, Enaam came back from a difficult start to snatch 2nd on the line, knowing that he would just need to go one better in the Final to become British Open Champion. At the green light, he was put wide and dropped right down to 7th, but regained his composure and quickly picked off the drivers in front to climb to 3rd. Despite setting fast times, it looked like the gap was just too big to close, but in true Enaam style he never gave up and on the final lap, the leaders made contact allowing him to snatch 2nd. Enaam’s team mate Josh was given a penalty for the contact, promoting Enaam to the win and the title following a stunning come back.

Motorsports Mondial

JRM Racing completes first laps of Le Mans

JRM Racing’s preparations for its debut Le Mans 24 Hours continued in the pre-race test day. The reigning FIA GT1 champions, owned by James Rumsey and managed by Nigel Stepney, is making starting its first Le Mans this year in the LMP1 category with a sole Honda HPD ARX 03a. 

Drivers David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok all completed laps of the 13.629km La Sarthe track, with the team capturing the 11th quickest time in the afternoon session; a 3:37.358.

David – who had flown in last night after qualifying for the Blancpain race in Silverstone – completed five laps after a delay caused by first a telemetry issue and then an oil leak. The Australian, the winner of the 2009 race, set a best time of a 3:46.802 on his second lap in the damp morning session to establish a baseline set-up for the rest of the test.

After a 1.5 hour delay caused by a front suspension issue, Peter took over the car just before midday and completed four laps before the lunchtime break. The Scot, who competes in the LMP1 category for the first time since 1999, ran a programme to evaluate the new aero package introduced since the 6 Hours of Spa and set a best time of 3:37.358 and a total of 21 laps. Karun then stepped in and alternated with Peter throughout the afternoon, setting a best time of 3:38.287 after 17 laps. The lap count for Karun means he has now effectively qualified for the event as a rookie driver.

Nigel Stepney, chief engineer and team manager

We had a few issues in the morning but that is what this day is about – shaking out any of the remaining issues. Once we got over these it was productive. We had a new aero package to test and the improvements gave the drivers the confidence to attack the track a lot more in the afternoon. While we know we’re not fighting with the likes of Audi and Toyota, we can very realistically be the highest petrol finisher so the focus from now on will be getting the reliability, introducing small performance modifications and getting the team together. It’s our first Le Mans ever, so getting the right rhythm and balance within the team is crucial.

David Brabham

I was obviously already running a shortened programme today but we lost a little more time at the start of the morning with an oil leak. I managed to do a few laps, which was good to be able to point the team in the right direction for the race. It’s always beneficial to have a baseline to build on and this was what it was about today.

Karun Chandhok

I really enjoyed my time in the car today, my first ever laps of Le Mans. In reality the track is tougher than any other track I’ve driven! We lost a little bit of time in the morning but in the end we got some very productive work done, but the main goal was to get 10 laps in to qualify for the race next week. We managed that easily so it was objective achieved. I’m feeling much more prepared ahead of the big event – the times were pretty good and actually not 100% reflective of the speed of the car as each lap I got stuck in traffic behind slower cars. From now until next week it’s going to be back to the UK for some meetings and training and back here refreshed and ready on Monday.

Peter Dumbreck

The pace was very good and I think without the traffic we would easily have been higher up the classifications. Of all the privateer teams I think we are really up there and should be fighting for the highest petrol car honours come race week. We made improvements all the way through the day and the last batch of improvements were pretty good – we lowered the car, softened it a up a bit at the front so now the car is getting a lot of grip. It gives a bit of confidence and you can really push hard into the braking zones, which is where a lot of the time can be found. Overall I think it’s been a good day – it’s our first Le Mans as the team and we’ve had a few issues here and there, but if we take where we are today and where we want to be in race week, we should be fine.

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast