BTCC: Silverstone: VX Racing preview

VX Racing Ready To Defend Early Lead At Silverstone Thursday 6 May 2004-- VX Racing heads to Silverstone, for rounds seven, eight and nine of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship, in a buoyant mood after establishing an early...

VX Racing Ready To Defend Early Lead At Silverstone

Thursday 6 May 2004-- VX Racing heads to Silverstone, for rounds seven, eight and nine of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship, in a buoyant mood after establishing an early lead in the team, manufacturers' and drivers' championships.

Silverstone is the home circuit for Greatworth-based VX Racing, and usually produces good results for the team, with four podium finishes, including two wins in 2003. VX Racing young gun, Luke Hines is aiming to close the gap between his current fifth place in the drivers' championship and join his team-mates in the top three - Yvan Muller and James Thompson are level on 64 points in the top spot.

Fresh from his maiden victory in the Vauxhall Astra Coupe, and without success ballast, Hines is positive about his chances at Silverstone. "I learnt a lot at Brands Hatch," says Hines, "It was a mixed weekend for me in terms of results, but to take my first win so early in the season is just fantastic. The extra weight of the success ballast has a major effect on the car, but I will be going to Silverstone with the advantage of racing in a lighter car. I have every intention of closing the gap to James and Yvan and making it into the top three in the drivers championship."

Thompson goes to Silverstone carrying the maximum 42 kilos of success ballast, thanks to his win in the final race at Brands Hatch. "The success ballast played a crucial role at Brands Hatch, and I'm sure it will at Silverstone. We know the Astra handles well with the extra weight but I'll be carrying the maximum, so it will be difficult to get a good qualifying position. As always we will be working on getting the most out of the weekend, and aiming to take as many points as we can."

With the new regulations, including a reverse grid for the second race, and no mandatory pit stops, defending champion Yvan Muller struggled to find the optimum set-up at Brands Hatch, and despite securing five podium finishes out of the six races so far this season, Muller is adamant that the drivers' championship is not currently his top priority. "At this early stage it doesn't really matter who is leading the championship," insists the flamboyant Frenchman. "What really matters is that we get the right set-up and are consistent in our results. There is a long way to go, with 24 races left, so talk of the championship so early is silly. We just have to work hard on finding the right set-up and taking the most points we can."

As well as leading the drivers' championship, VX Racing is looking to extend its lead in both the team and manufacturers' championship in front of the team's home crowd at Silverstone.

Hot Facts

* Last year at Silverstone-- Yvan Muller and James Thompson each claimed a second place and win, with James recording the fastest qualifying lap of 1:28.277 minutes.

* Round 8 at Silverstone will be Yvan's 150th BTCC race -- he began his BTCC career back in 1998, but this year is his 24th season in motor racing.

* It was Luke's 22nd birthday on 4 May, and to celebrate he enjoyed a night out in London with friends. However, he will have to wait until Sunday for the birthday present he wants most - another race win!

* At Thruxton Luke's hair was tipped with blonde, for Brands Hatch he treated us to added red flecks, but what will it be for Silverstone -- blue?

The VX Racing Guide to Silverstone

"Silverstone has some big straights, and it is quite wide and flat. We will be racing on the International circuit, not the main Grand Prix circuit, but it's still a fantastic buzz to drive at Silverstone, especially when you think about all the great drivers who have been there. Brooklands is quite tricky, most people tend to overdrive it, but you just need to be patient. It's not one of my favourite circuits, but despite that I've had some good results there, in fact I won one race at Silverstone by 16 seconds. There are plenty of places to overtake, but I think Copse is probably the best place to watch, the action usually happens there."

-vxr-

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