Silverstone, 9 May 2004 - VX Racing drivers James Thompson and Yvan Muller arrived at Silverstone as joint leaders of the BTCC drivers' championship, both intent on edging ahead of the other on departure. Thompson won this battle, but along the...
Silverstone, 9 May 2004 - VX Racing drivers James Thompson and Yvan Muller arrived at Silverstone as joint leaders of the BTCC drivers' championship, both intent on edging ahead of the other on departure. Thompson won this battle, but along the way both drivers fought hard to add all-important points to their tally, although Muller's misfortune before the third race sealed the lead for Thompson a little more easily than anticipated. With Muller's car dropping oil on the formation lap, the Frenchman was forced to miss the final race of the day, a bitter disappointment to the reigning champion.
A win, a fourth and a seventh place finish for Thompson and two second place finishes for Muller helped to keep Vauxhall at the head of the Manufacturers championship and VX Racing leading the team championship. Third driver, Luke Hines, had to endure his toughest weekend of the season so far, with the young gun having to recover from a slow start in the first race to finish a creditable eighth and a slot on the second row of the grid for the second race; finishing fourteenth after a spin in the next race losing him the potential of a points-paying position, and crossing the finish line in eleventh in the final race of the day.
The hallmark of touring cars is wheel-to-wheel, fast and frantic racing and the Silverstone weekend exemplified this feature in every race, although the third race produced plenty of controversy to anger the VX Racing team. In the first two rounds all three VX Racing Astra Coupes were regular stars of good, clean action, and although there was plenty of bumping and grinding between the red and white cars and the opposition, it was fair racing. In the first race it was the highly experienced James Thompson and rival Jason Plato demonstrating close competition, with Thompson enjoying the fight, saying, "For a long time I was side by side with Plato - through the complex, down the straight, round the first corner and down to Becketts -- it was good. We only had the briefest of touches once. It's good when you know people and can trust them and get on with it."
In the second race it was Yvan Muller in the thick of the battles, as he sparred first with the SEAT of Robert Huff and then with adversary, Anthony Reid. "There were so many things happening I don't remember them all!" said Muller. "Especially in the first five laps or so when I was fighting with many different cars." Both Thompson and Hines experienced the harsh realities of mid-field racing in the third race, with Thompson coming under brutal attack from Anthony Reid at the start of the race which left him angered by his track tactics. "The bloke just turned me around and then I just got hit by everybody else.He's a clown - he should be juggling balls in the circus. Yes, I'm pretty cheesed off about it. There were a load of culprits who didn't attempt to overtake, just punt me out the way.Very frustrating."
VX Racing depart Silverstone as they arrived, leading the manufacturers and team championships, and with a VX Racing driver leading the drivers championship. The team also maintains its record of winning at least one race at each event in the 2004 calendar, and James Thompson securing the most driver wins this year. Heading to the next race weekend at Oulton Park in two weeks time, the team will be focused on maintaining this lead and scoring more points.
VX Racing operations manager summed up the weekend saying, "We carried a lot of weight into this weekend and didn't qualify very well, We've seen some great track action today in the first two races and it's been good to see our guys driving intelligently, racing hard, but fair. A good weekend for James, a mixed one for Yvan -- I understand how disappointed he is, especially after two strong races, and a tough day for Luke. But it's a shame that the actions of some drivers tainted the third race. There are certain drivers o! ut there, who, no matter how experienced they may be, don't seem to be able to overtake anybody unless they hit them off. There's some old ones and some new ones. I think it's absolutely outrageous. I've never seen such an appalling display of driving manners in my life."