BTCC: Thruxton: Vauxhall Motorsport preview

Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) Rounds 5&6 - Thruxton, Hampshire - May 5/6, 2002 Astra's kerbside manners put to the test. If you want to catch some spectacular two-wheeled action this coming Bank Holiday weekend (May...

Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC)
Rounds 5&6 - Thruxton, Hampshire - May 5/6, 2002

Astra's kerbside manners put to the test.

If you want to catch some spectacular two-wheeled action this coming Bank Holiday weekend (May 5/6) then forget bike racing and look no further than the British Touring Car Championship Vauxhall Astra Coupés that will be out in force jumping the notorious kerbs at Hampshire's 2.36-mile Thruxton circuit.

Famed for its bone-rattling red, white and blue kerbs that launch the cars onto two wheels, Thruxton is about to pose the toughest challenge yet for the BTCC paddock. Miss the kerbs at the Club chicane and a driver can compromise his qualifying time, but attack with vigour and all hopes of fame and glory could potentially go up in the same puff of smoke as a blown tyre. It's a gamble and the question is, who's brave enough to play?

Vauxhall Motorsport's Yvan Muller and James Thompson will almost certainly be seen attacking Thruxton's kerbs in anger during Rounds 5 & 6 this weekend - they've got a lot at stake. Muller currently leads the drivers standings by 40 points to Matt Neal's 36 and the Frenchman will be wanting to put as much space between himself and his fellow Astra Coupé driver as possible.

Although neither the Vauxhall Motorsport nor the Egg Sport teams have tested at Thruxton this year, Muller is confident of a good performance, after all, he's won three of his four previous races there.

"From experience, Thruxton is a good circuit for Vauxhall. I just hope the temperatures will not be too high as it can affect tyre performance. Thruxton is definitely the hardest circuit for tyres but if you want to be quick in qualifying, you have to ride the kerbs, it's very simple," explains Muller.

Team-mate James Thompson will be hot on his heels though. The determined 28-year-old from Yorkshire who currently lies third in the drivers' standings, is notoriously fast at Thruxton. He set not only the fastest qualifying time at Thruxton last year, but also the fastest race lap time - a performance he's keen to repeat.

And with four other drivers also in Astra Coupés, it won't just be the rival marques Muller and Thompson will be worrying about. The Astra Coupé has proven such a strong contender for the second consecutive year that its stranglehold on the winner's podium has yet to be broken. And just to spice up the action, a different Astra Coupé driver has been at the wheel each time.

Can the Astra Coupé continue its run of success? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure - spectators at Thruxton this weekend are in for a thrilling ride.

Rounds 5 & 6 commence with BTC Touring car free practice on the morning of Sunday, 5 May whilst qualifying takes place after lunch at 3.30pm. Monday's events start at 10.45am with Pitlane Walkabout and at 12.40pm, the touring cars will roar off the grid for the 15-lap Sprint Race (Rd 5). The 25-lap main Feature Race (Rd 6) gets under way at 4.15pm. Granada Sport's one-hour programme will be shown the following Saturday on ITV1.

-vm-

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Yvan Muller , James Thompson , Matt Neal