www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC)
Silverstone - September 8/9 2001
Vauxhall Expecting Toughest Competition Yet
Vauxhall Motorsport's Jason Plato and Yvan Muller are gearing up for what could be their toughest challenge yet as they head for Rounds 21 & 22 of the www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone this weekend, September 8/9. Just ten points separate Championship leader, Plato (260 points) and his teammate, Muller (250 points) but if that wasn't enough to keep the Vauxhall hotshots occupied, this Saturday and Sunday sees the arrival of some fresh competition in the form of MG Sport & Racing's Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes, while Peugeot showed its potential at the previous Oulton Park races.
Yvan Muller is only too aware of the potential controversies that could arise this weekend with a championship at its closing stages and a driver's title still up for grabs: "Although I am 10 points behind Jason, it is still possible for me to win this year and it could be tricky if two drivers clash on the track, if only one of them is in the championship fight. If it is Jason and I fighting, fair enough, but it would be a shame if it was a Peugeot or MG that helped decide the title."
One thing is for sure, both Vauxhall drivers intend to keep former BTCC adversary, Anthony Reid in their rear view mirrors this weekend. As Frenchman Muller explains: "Reid is definitely one of the more difficult drivers to overtake. If you are first and he is second then you know that the driver in third will probably be there for a while! But if you are the one behind Reid, then you have a problem."
Oxford based Plato knows he has his work cut out but will be aiming for a repeat of his performance earlier in the year at Silverstone when he took a double win.
Egg Sport Astra Coupé driver, Phil Bennett returns to the fray this weekend after his one-race ban which saw him replaced by F3 driver, Andy Priaulx for Rounds 19 & 20 at Oulton Park. Driving alongside Bennett in the fourth Astra Coupé is North Yorkshire's James Thompson, who lies third in the standings with 231 points.
Silverstone sees the 30-minute Touring Car qualifying session getting under way at 3:15pm on Saturday (September 8) afternoon. Race day, Sunday, starts with the traditional pitlane walkabout at 9.45am when spectators get the chance to gather autographs and meet their touring car heroes. The 15-lap Sprint race starts at 12pm whilst the 30-lap Feature race is scheduled for 15:20pm.