James Thompson continued his success from the sprint race qualifying at the Croft BTCC round to secure pole position for the main feature race in the second half of the session. His first competitive lap time was enough to reach and stay at the...
James Thompson continued his success from the sprint race qualifying at the Croft BTCC round to secure pole position for the main feature race in the second half of the session. His first competitive lap time was enough to reach and stay at the top of the timesheets as team-mate Muller suffered problems but was eventually able to lap just seven hundredths of a a second slower.
Andy Priaulx and Alan Morrison again qualified in third and fourth places respectively in their Honda Civics with Matt Neal again sandwiched by MGs, this time belonging to Warren Hughes in fifth and Anthony Reid in seventh. Paul O'Neill continued his unfortunate qualifying session with a ninth place, but Phil Bennett and Carl Breeze were unable to set times
At the start Thompson came under the first serious pressure of the weekend as team-mate Muller passed him on the first lap and pulled off into the lead, leaving Thompson in the clutches of Andy Priaulx in third place. The rest of the field got away cleanly and all the top drivers held their positions. Warren Hughes lost a place on lap four and retired on the following lap. Soon afterwards Paul O'Neill dropped a couple of places.
The leading Vauxhalls incredibly decided to both pit on lap 6, allowing Muller to return in 11th place and causing Thompson to be delayed by over a minute and return to the race at the very back of the field, ten seconds behind the next runner and just four seconds away from being lapped. Thompson was soon lapped however and retired from the race on the following lap suffering from an apperant misfire. This left Priaulx and Morrison in first and second place, lapping upto two seconds faster than the rest of the field and with a lead of around 8 seconds. Priaulx then made his pitstop on lap 9 and returned to the track just in front of Muller. The pair battled hard for several laps as they worked back up the field, barely two tenths of a second apart, before Muller nudged past as the last pitstop was made and took the lead.
Once all the pitstops had been completed by lap thirteen the order was Muller, Priaulx, Morrison, Reid, Neal, Dan Eaves (Peugeot) and Turkington. Muller and Morrison had a small cushion to the next three drivers who themselves were seperated by half a second. A slip by Morrison caused him to fall back to fifth but he was able to stay in touch with those ahead. Meanwhile Neal dropped from fourth place and then eventually pulled off on lap 18. Lapped backmarkers running amongst the leaders allowed Muller some breathing space but Priaulx soon closed the gap again with a set of blistering laps. However Muller had enough of a lead and was able to take the chequered flag one and a half seconds ahead of Priaulx, with Anthony Reid in third.