Vauxhall Motorsport's Yvan Muller stamped his authority on the www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship today taking BTC Touring wins in both Sprint and Feature races from pole and taking a clear lead in the drivers' championship. Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe driver, James Thompson took a pair of seconds to claim second place in the drivers' standings with Jason Plato slipping to overall third after a podium place finish in the 15-lap Sprint Race but a non finish in the 30-lap Feature Race.
Muller made a moderate start, but benefited when the others made a bad start, including Plato who stalled his Astra on the grid. Thompson was right up with Muller at the end of the first lap with Plato on a mission picking his way through a Peugeot, Lexus, Alfa Romeo battle ahead of him. Running in the new handicap format, with Touring cars starting one lap down on the Production cars, Muller finished the race with maximum Touring points although the race win went to the Production class Peugeot of Roger Moen.
In the Feature race, Muller again made a strong start, with Plato for company, but some rapid pit-stop work by Plato's Triple Eight crew put him back out just in front of Muller - the Frenchman redressing the balance halfway around the next lap. In the meantime, Phil Bennett had spun-off and dropped back amongst the Production cars, only then to drive over debris and have to make an unscheduled stop to change a flat front tyre. Bennett was destined for a rare non-finish when one of the championship obligatory components in the transmission failed.
Muller went on to take the race win and take his second set of maximum points for the weekend, while Plato drove slowly into the pits, his Astra's powersteering broken and his championship lead lost. Scant reward for the Oxford driver was the knowledge he was the fastest man on the track, rewarded with a new lap record.
Yvan Muller, Car 4, Vauxhall Astra Coupe Sprint -- Winner (pole), Feature -- Touring winner (pole) "I made a normal start in the Sprint Race but fortunately for me, everyone behind made a bad one! I tried to put in a good second lap to get some distance between myself and the rest of the field and have a go at getting a point for fastest lap but it was really hot out there and the brakes started to go after five laps or so. From then on I just concentrated on keeping my race lead and conserving the brakes. Winning the Feature Race made it a perfect weekend; two poles, two wins and the championship lead - I couldn't have asked for more. It was a great result for Vauxhall - the Astra Coupe and the team were great."
Jason Plato, Car 5, Vauxhall Astra Coupe Sprint -- 3rd - Fastest lap: 1m28.478, Feature -- DNF - Fastest lap: 1m28.226 "It was quite an eventful Sprint Race for me, I had to purposefully stall the Astra Coupe on the grid to avoid being penalised for a jump start; I had my foot hard down on the clutch when it bit and the car lurched forward. Fortunately I made a much better start in the Feature Race and thanks to the Triple Eight boys I had a great pitstop which sent me out right in front of Yvan. Obviously I'm really disappointed that the power steering went as it has set me back in the championship points standings."
James Thompson, Car 9, Vauxhall Astra Coupe Sprint - 2nd, Feature - 2nd Touring "It was a matter of getting the car off the start line, Yvan and Kurt (Luby, Lexus) made a great start but I knew we had a good race pace, so I wasn't too worried that I'd lost a couple of places. By the time I had got past and into second, Yvan was seven seconds clear of me. I knew Yvan was conserving his brakes and I managed to get the gap down to about three seconds but it would have been nice to have been able to challenge for the win. I'm really pleased to have two second places, it has moved me into second place in the championship. I still have to work on the Astra Coupe's set-up for qualifying but in the races, we are all very evenly matched. I'm really looking forward to the night race at Silverstone now."
Phil Bennett, Car 27, Vauxhall Astra Coupe Sprint - 4th, Feature - DNF "I made a pretty good start in the Sprint Race but couldn't make the most it because I was behind Jason who had stalled. I then made a mistake which let the other past me and it meant I had to work really hard to catch up. But, I'm pleased to be on the pace. The Feature Race was a disappointment though. First I had a puncture after driving over some debris and then transmission failure cost me a race result and points."
<pre> www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship Rounds 5&6 - Oulton Park, May 19/20
Sprint Race (15 laps) 1 Roger Moen Peugeot 306 23:21.805 2 Simon Harrison Peugeot 306 23:27.514 3 James Kaye Honda Accord 23:27.918 4 Gareth Howell Ford Focus 23:34.391 5 Gavin Pyper Alfa Romeo 156 23:36.870 6 Peter Cate Honda Accord 23:37.124 7 Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 23:47.933 (BTCT) 8 James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 23:50.258 (BTCT) 9 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Coupe 23:51.184 (BTCT) 10 Tom Boardman Peugeot 306 23:54.883
Feature Race (30 laps) 1 Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 45:01.849 (BTCT) 2 James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 45:04.001 (BTCT) 3 Tim Harvey Alfa Romeo 147 45:57.272 (BTCT) 4 Gavin Pyper Alfa Romeo 156 45:06.460 5 Kurt Luby Lexus IS200 45:06.675 (BTCT) 6 Gareth Howell Ford Focus 45:34.609 7 Simon Harrison Peugeot 306 45:50.387 8 Tom Boardman Peugeot 306 46:14.016 9 Rick Kramer Ford Focus 46:15.315 10 Richard Meins Ford Focus 46:17.308
Drivers' Championship (after 6 Rds) 1 Muller (F) Vauxhall 82 points 2 Thompson Vauxhall 70 3 Plato Vauxhall 68 4 Bennett Vauxhall 46 5 Eaves Peugeot 21 6 Soper Peugeot 19
Manufacturers' Championship (after 6 Rds) 1 Vauxhall 202 points 2 Peugeot 65