BTCC: Croft: Vauxhall Motorsport preview

Thompson wants championship lead back at home circuit. Yorkshire's British Touring Car Championship star, James Thompson, has declared his intentions to regain the BTCC championship lead when he returns to his home circuit of Croft this weekend,...

Thompson wants championship lead back at home circuit.

Yorkshire's British Touring Car Championship star, James Thompson, has declared his intentions to regain the BTCC championship lead when he returns to his home circuit of Croft this weekend, July 13/14.

The 28-year-old Astra Coupé driver from York is currently locked in battle with fellow Astra Coupé drivers, Egg Sport's Matt Neal and Vauxhall Motorsport's Yvan Muller. He lies just one point adrift of series leader, Neal, as the championship enters the second half of the season.

"It would be fantastic to regain the lead in front of my home crowd this weekend. I tend to go well at Croft and I always have lots of support from the crowd urging me on which is great. It's one of the best races of the year for atmosphere and I'm really looking forward to going back," commented Thompson.

Highlighting track conditions as a vital factor this weekend, he continued; "I just hope the weather is good. Track conditions can be tricky at the best of times as half the circuit is very high grip and the other half, very bumpy and low in grip. And that's quite a difficult proposition if it then rains as well! It's also high speed and very technical so I'm expecting a difficult weekend ahead."

Thompson is in fighting mood though as he believes the lead would, under different circumstances, have been his anyway. The Vauxhall Motorsport driver was docked five points at the previous round at Mondello Park in Ireland for being on his fifth engine. The permitted championship quota of engines is four and a driver is docked five points for every subsequent engine. Had Thompson not lost those vital points, he would be leading the series by four points. "Losing the championship lead on a technicality has been very frustrating but I'll just have to get on with the job in hand and hopefully regain it again," he concluded.

Thompson's attitude has been bolstered by his results at Mondello Park where he took a brace of second place podium positions despite the considerable success ballast carried on his Astra Coupé. Whether or not the gritty Yorkshireman can pull off the same feat at Croft with 42kgs of ballast remains to be seen.

Vauxhall Motorsport teammate, Yvan Muller, meanwhile is hoping that the luck that saw a return to his winning form in Ireland has travelled back across the water with him. The Frenchman has suffered a torrid time recently and his Feature Race win in Ireland was his first podium in four races - a highly unusual state of play for one of the championship's title favourites. The win came just in time for Muller, lifting him out of the clutches of MG's Anthony Reid in the championship standings and he now has some catching up to do if he is to put his championship hopes back on track.

Croft's races this weekend could well be the pivotal round for both Vauxhall Motorsport drivers.

Touring car action at Croft commences with BTC Touring car free practices on the morning of Saturday, 13 July whilst qualifying takes place that same afternoon at 3.10pm. Sunday's events kick off with Pitlane Walkabout at 10.30am with the 15-lap Sprint Race getting under way at 12pm. The 25-lap main Feature Race starts at 3.50pm. Granada Sport's coverage will be shown the following Saturday afternoon on ITV1.

-vm-

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