Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship 2002
Rounds 5 - Thruxton, Race Report - May 6
It was all happening this afternoon in the 15-lap Sprint race as the two Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupes put on a thrilling display of door-to-door action and heart stopping overtaking manoeuvres. Unfortunately for Muller, who had started from pole, it was to end in a non-finish after contact with his team-mate, Thompson, resulted in a broken trackrod. Thompson though was thrilled with his win, promoting the Yorkshireman from third to second in the Championship standings. Egg Sports, Matt Neal meanwhile, triumphed in his monumental battle with MG driver, Anthony Reid to go on to finish second, handing Neal a championship lead of just one point.
There was no doubt however that this would be a classic race from the moment the cars left the grid with Muller and Thompson both getting a clean getaway with Reid and Neal putting the pressure on from behind. The opening two laps saw Muller and Thompson battle hard for position but despite repeated attempts by Thompson to pass the Astra of Muller, he had him covered. Reid, in third meanwhile, had his rear view mirror full with the image of Neal's Astra Coupe. Neal's dogged determination paid off and the Birmingham driver dived past into third on lap three. This had allowed Muller and Thompson to pull away from the field in their identical Astra Coupes only for the pair to fall foul of traffic as they hit the Production class backmarkers by lap nine.
This was to set off a chain of events that saw Muller and Thompson repeatedly trading places for the race lead. A dive up the inside of Thompson however, resulted in contact between the pair with Muller sustaining a broken trackrod putting an end to his race hopes as he pulled off the circuit with just three laps to go. It was also to cost him the championship lead. Thompson went on to claim his second win of the season with Neal in second and Reid a close third.
Vauxhall Motorsport Quotes:
Yvan Muller, Car 2, Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Sprint - DNF
(Re: Sprint) "I have to accept what happened as a racing incident but I'm not very pleased with one of the Production class drivers who decided to fight against me at the Complex. That's what started the whole chain of events enabling James to get near me."
James Thompson, Car 3, Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Sprint - Winner, 19:47.539, FL: 1:17.344 (lap 4)
(Re: Sprint) "That was a right good old tussle! That's about as close as it gets in racing. What happened with Yvan was just one of those things. He dived down the inside and we made contact. It sent me sideways but it wasn't a big problem. We were pretty evenly matched all race and just toying with each other really - I was enjoying it. He allowed me to nip through at Goodwood when he made a mistake which started it all off. We were having a good, clean scrap at pretty high speeds and it's a real shame he had to retire."