Currently reading: BTCC preview - Jason Plato's fast lap of Brands Hatch
It's the final weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch. Jason Plato reveals how to qualify on pole position

After 501 laps and more than 925 miles of flat-out competition over 27 rounds, played out on nine different circuits, the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches its climax at Brands Hatch this weekend with five drivers going toe-to-toe for glory.

Both factory Honda Civic Type R drivers Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal will go up against two Team BMR-run VW CCs of Jason Plato and Colin Turkington. Andrew Jordan’s factory-backed MG6 GT also has a mathematical chance of the silverware.

Shedden leads the standings by 23 points, which means he has one hand on the trophy, but second-place Plato is a wily fox who has been around the BTCC block for almost two decades. It would take a real mishap for Shedden to lose his grasp on the title but the BTCC has a way of keeping the drama going to the very last moment.

Turkington is 32 points away from the summit, with Neal 37 points adrift of his leading team-mate. There are 67 points on offer in total over the three races in Kent.

The competitiveness of the category is never highlighted better than on the Grand Prix loop at Brands. It suits the shorter, longer, front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive machines, meaning no one has an advantage. It is a great leveller, which is just want you want when it is all on the line.

Shedden and Plato can rely on the backing of their sister cars should they not have a disaster in the opening round and slip back.

Add in to that mix 1997 and 2000 champion Alain Menu, who has been drafted into the Team BMR squad in a third car. He is deputising for the injured team boss Warren Scott. Although the Swiss driver has been out of the cockpit for 12 months, he loves the 2.433-mile course and could be on hand to assist either Plato or Turkington’s title hopes.

It is all to play for and even the most hardened gambler would be keeping his loot firmly in his pocket this weekend.

Jason Plato on how to qualify on pole position at Brands Hatch Grand Prix

Jason Plato’s MG6 GT was in the title fight for the British Touring Car Championship 12 months ago. He narrowly failed to lift the crown but his lap for pole position on the Saturday leading up to the showdown was sensational. He talks us around that lap, which was 0.9s faster than his rivals:

"Going in to Paddock Hill Bend, you can see that I am on the brakes over the crest going in to the corner. You approach it maybe only 10mph faster than on the short Indy layout, but it changes the right-hander dramatically. Because you are on the anchors when the car is going light, you have to have a lot of finesse and care in the braking zone to make sure she doesn’t swap around on you.

From there, it is on up to Druids. This can be a frustrating corner because you have to wait a long time on the exit. I heave on the brakes, get the weight transferred to the front of the car and get to the apex. You can get on the power and come out faster, but that compromises your line so you will see that I wait a bit before I light her up for the run down to Graham Hill Bend, the left-hander at the bottom of the hill.  

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Graham Hill Bend is crucial. You need the car to rotate a little from the rear to help you straighten it up for the exit, but too much rotation can spit you off. It is where a well set-up car will really reap rewards.

On to the left-hander at Surtees, and this is the key corner because it throws you out on to the long back straight. Unlike a lot of corners, there is more than one ideal line. You will see that I go out wide and flatten the exit of the corner off as much as possible – that is so I can get a strong run down the long straight that follows. You want to be able to open the taps as soon as possible. The more you have to tickle the throttle on the exit, the less ultimate speed you will have on the flat-out part. So you have to give yourself as much exit Tarmac as possible to be flat chat.

The next three corners are my favourites. You get to Hawthorn and it is uphill on the entry and you turn in blind. You have to pick your line. The camber of the hill helps you to stick to the road. It is ballsy. Every second you are off the throttle, you lose speed because it is uphill, so you need to get hard on the power even before the apex and hope that you’ve left enough room on the exit. You always feel like you have left time on the table there, but you generally haven’t.

The following Westfield right-hander is similar, but you approach on the level. There is a kerb on the right on the apex, but I tend to avoid that. You are asking a lot of the car at that point because the car is on load, so to demand that the rollbars cope with kerbs as well is a step too far.

Up to Sheene, and again I avoid the kerb on the entry to this blind-sighted right-hander. We were having trouble with the car over the bumps, so I took the safest path. You have to pick your line and pick up the power before you know where you are going to exit, so it is guesswork. You will see that I skirt the edge of the grass on the outside of the turn, which is what everybody does. It is a brinkmanship game.

Next is Stirlings, which is banked and is a great turn. You have to let the car roll through the corner, but beware in the wet. Even if it is dry at the front part of the track, the damp stays under the trees here and puddles form on the entry and apex ready to catch you out.

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Down to the final turn, Clearways. This is so tough because just as you brake and turn in, you go over a crest. That means you are putting the power on while the car is still light and floating. You need to get the power on soon, but until the car settles, you don’t know what line you are on – and there is a huge gravel trap on the outside to catch you out. You have to hold your breath a little bit here and pray you have got it right. From there, it is up to the line and hopefully, you’ve done enough to beat the rest…”

Read Autocar's race reports from the 2015 season

Race report from round 09 - Silverstone

Race report from round 08 - Rockingham

Race report from round 07 - Knockhill

Race report from round 06 - Snetterton

Race report from round 05 - Croft

Race report from round 04 - Oulton Park

Race report from round 03 - Thruxton

Race report from round 02 - Donington Park

Race report from round 01 - Brands Hatch

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