Jason Plato came within a whisker of beating the lap record at Croft on Friday when he hauled his Vauxhall Vectra around the North Yorkshire track in a time of 1 minute 21.241 seconds to claim top spot as the teams make their final preparations for Sunday's races.

Fords occupied the three places directly behind Plato with Alain Menu leading Rickard Rydell and Anthony Reid. Come official qualifying and the two races, Menu and Reid will find themselves with success ballast which will compromise their speed no doubt.

Gabriele Tarquini finished the day fifth fastest and the best placed Honda driver, the 1994 BTCC Champion was seven tenths of a second behind the flying Plato and the Accord looked uncomfortable through the tight hairpin. Tarquini was just ahead of local hero James Thompson who performed admirably despite still having burns to his leg. Thompson was the last driver to break into the 1 minute 21's with a time of 1 minute 21.910 seconds.

In Class B the pace was not surprisingly set by Alan Morrison's Peugeot 306 although Will Hoy and the ever reliable Barwell Hondas of James Kaye and Mark Lemmer were too far adrift.

Friday's times from Croft.

1. Jason Plato GB Vauxhall Vectra 1 min 21.241secs.
2. Alain Menu SUI Ford Mondeo 1 min 21.336secs.
3. Rickard Rydell SWE Ford Mondeo 1 min 21.482secs.
4. Anthony Reid GB Ford Mondeo 1 min 21.622secs.
5. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Honda Accord 1 min 21.872secs.
6. James Thompson GB Honda Accord 1 min 21.910secs.
7. Vincent Radermecker BEL Vauxhall Vectra 1 min 22.001secs.
8. Matt Neal GB Nissan Primera (I) 1 min 22.173secs.
9. Tom Kristensen DEN Honda Accord 1 min 22.398secs.
10. Yvan Muller FRA Vauhall Vectra 1 min 23.134secs.

12. Alan Morrison GB Peugeot 306 (B) 1 min 30.157secs.