Jason Plato admitted he had mixed emotions after qualifying ninth on the grid for the opening rounds of the new HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.
Plato looked set to miss the weekend after SEAT's withdrawal from the sport but inked a last minute deal to drive and RML-prepared Chevrolet Lacetti in the season opener.
However, the former champion went into the weekend having spend no-time in the car and had just two practice sessions to get used to his new surroundings while the team also went to work on getting the car working on the Dunlop tyres as opposed to the Yokohama rubber it ran on in the WTCC last year.
Plato was on the pace in both free practice sessions and then took ninth on the grid in qualifying, a result he admitted wasn't too bad considering the work that had had to go into getting on track in the first place.
“In some ways I'm disappointed to have qualified down in ninth but, to be honest, we knew this would be a big challenge,” he said. “It's fair to say I'm a bit rusty and we're yet to unlock the full potential of the car. We've tried lots of different set-ups today – some have worked better than others. On top of that I'm still getting to know the limits of the car and how it works on this tyre… but that's why the other teams have been doing thousands of miles of pre-season testing. I'm playing catch up on race weekend, which was never going to be easy.
“We're here to have some fun and to put on a good show for the spectators. Hopefully, we'll make some more improvements overnight and, once the racing starts, I'll be able to use my experience to make some swift progress towards the front. What's more, with weight handicaps plus a reverse grid in the third race, we're still in the hunt for some good results.”