Thompson on top after Silverstone. Vauxhall Motorsport's James Thompson took his third win of the season today at Silverstone to claim top spot in the British Touring Car Championship's drivers' standings. The Yorkshireman had gone into the ...
Thompson on top after Silverstone.
Vauxhall Motorsport's James Thompson took his third win of the season today at Silverstone to claim top spot in the British Touring Car Championship's drivers' standings. The Yorkshireman had gone into the weekend in equal first place with fellow Astra Coupe drivers, Yvan Muller and Matt Neal but won through to nudge ahead by a mere four points. Neal made the most of his sixth and third places in the 15-lap Sprint and 25-lap Feature races to hang on to second place with 76 points whilst Vauxhall Motorsport's Muller lies in third with 62 points.
Rounds 7&8 produced plenty of podium positions for the Astra Coupe drivers enabling Vauxhall to maintain its lead in the manufacturers' championship with 200 points to MG's 119. The Teams' Championship meanwhile continues to see Vauxhall Motorsport at the top on 75 points to Egg Sport's 55.
Weather and tyre choice proved crucial in the 15-lap Sprint race today, and in a bold gamble by the Vauxhall Motorsport pair, Thompson and Muller chose to run slick tyres on the wet but drying track. Finding themselves in fifth and seventh places on the grid as a result of their success ballast, it was a risk worth taking to try to get to gain an advantage over the rest of the field, the majority of whom were on wets. Unfortunately for the championship leaders though, track conditions didn't play into their hands and despite their Astra Coupes getting quicker throughout the race and climbing up through the field, the pair ran out of laps before they could catch the front runners. Thompson did however capitalise on the drying track to claim a vital point for fastest lap and the pair finished eighth and tenth respectively.
At the front of the field meanwhile, the Egg Sport Astra Coupes continued their run of glory and enjoyed a thrilling fight with the MG of poleman, Warren Hughes. Unfortunately for Neal though, his wet tyres rapidly went off leaving the Birmingham driver struggling to maintain position. O'Neill on the other hand grabbed his opportunity and kept a cool head to claim another well-deserved podium in his debut BTCC season. He was followed over the finish line by David Leslie in the Proton Impian.
The 25-lap Feature race saw a change of fortunes for Thompson and rid of the success ballast that had weighed him down earlier in the weekend, he got off to a cracking start. Climbing from fifth to second by the end of the first lap, he went on to relentlessly pursue the MG of Anthony Reid. So as the race got under way, it was Reid followed by Thompson and the Egg Sport Astras of O'Neill and Neal. Muller meanwhile fell foul of a nudge by Dan Eaves and finding himself pushed off the track, had to climb up through the field once again.
After the reshuffle of pitstops, Thompson was hot on the heels of Reid and, helped by a new set of tyres, he was able to pass Reid on lap nine for the lead - a lead which was not relinquished for the remainder of the race. The battle for third and fourth meanwhile saw the Egg Sport Astra Coupes regularly trading places until the more experienced Neal won through giving the Birmingham driver enough points to maintain second in the championship.
Vauxhall Motorsport Quotes:
Yvan Muller, Car 2, Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Sprint - 10th, Feature - 10th
(Re: Sprint) "If had to do it all again, I would definitely make the same decision. Unfortunately, today the track didn't dry as quickly as I thought it could. And then, having changed from wets to slicks, I was starting on cold tyres, which didn't help at the beginning of the race. It really could have been a different story, the gamble just didn't pay off." (Re: Feature) "I got a good start in the Feature race and had made it up to seventh by the end of the first lap. Unfortunately I then got a nudge by Dan Eaves and went off which meant having start from the back all over again."
James Thompson, Car 3, Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Sprint - 8th, FL: 1m31.707s, Feature - Winner, FL: 1m28.324s
(Re: Sprint) "That race was just four laps too short! Like Yvan, I would make the same decision again if I had to. I've been here before when the gamble has worked but it's a very close call. The ballast was a big problem but I'll get rid of that now for the Feature." (Re: Feature) "It's been a very tough weekend here at Silverstone. Anthony was certainly quick in that race and it was hard work. The guys did a fantastic job though in the pitstop. I'd saved my best set of tyres for the second half of the race which meant that once I'd passed Reid, I was able to pull out as big a lead as possible. To come away with a win is a good show."
OTHER VAUXHALL NEWS
Matt Neal, Car 0, Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe
Sprint - 6th, Feature - 3rd
Paul O'Neill, Car 29, Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe
Sprint - 2nd, Feature - 4th