Current leading touring car team, VX Racing, heads to Donington for the penultimate race weekend of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship, with all three drivers hunting for points in a fierce battle for the Driver's Championship and Vauxhall set to take the manufacturers title.
VX Racing's Yvan Muller currently tops the Driver's Championship in his Vauxhall Astra coupe with a healthy 183 points, closely followed by team mates James Thompson with 158 and Paul O'Neill on 119 points. Honda's Matt Neal is in with a slim outside chance on 114 points in fourth position. With 35 points on offer in each of the two final race weekends, it's tight at the top and is set to go to the wire, at Oulton Park.
The excitement of the last race weekend at Brands Hatch saw VX Racing, MG and Honda fighting hard on track and although VX Racing looked set for certain wins in both races, in each one track incidents upset the order. Muller and O'Neill managed to salvage podium finishes, keeping Muller in the championship lead and promoting O'Neill back into third place. However, Muller's second place finish was not the only thing he left the Kent circuit with; he was suspended for 11 days after an off-track incident, which has resulted in the Frenchman missing free practice day at Donington. Thompson suffered in a number of track incidents, which left him trailing Muller by 25 points in the title contest, but with 70 points on offer in the final two rounds, the battle is set to rage on.
Donington brings a new challenge for Muller and the other drivers; for the first time they will be racing on the National Circuit rather than the more familiar GP track. The 1.95 mile circuit is dominated by the Craner Curves; a sweeping downhill that will test every drivers commitment, and is widely regarded as one of the best tracks in the UK.
The three VX Racing drivers preview the Donington weekend:
"I cannot take part in free practice and that will hurt me. Qualifying on Saturday will be the only chance I have to get the set-up of the car right, and at the same time I must also try to get as close to the front of the grid as I can. I don't know how I will do it, or how this will affect my chances of winning the race. Anything could happen, especially as Donington is not usually kind to me. I'll do my best and can hopefully keep my lead in the championship."
"I had a torrid time at Brands Hatch, finishing fifth and then tenth have not been good for my Championship hopes, but I'm determined to give it my all at Donington. It's where I started my racing career and is a great circuit; fast and flowing with good overtaking. It holds a lot of good memories for me. Yvan is now 25 points ahead, so it's still possible that I could do it. I'm just hoping for a better result than I had at Brands. The end of the season is in sight and I'll be battling all the way to the close".
"I was really pleased to be able to take second place at Brands Hatch, and to move back up to third in the drivers' championship is just brilliant for me. The car was set-up perfectly, so I just hope I can do the same this weekend. I'm proud to be up there with drivers like Yvan and James, but I'm still under pressure from Matt Neal, so I've just got to try and win another race. I want to bring home as many points as I can."