Yvan Muller took a straightforward win in the Sprint race although he came under late-race pressure from Warren Hughes's MG and Vauxhall team-mate James Thompson. After an initial safety-car period Muller pulled away into a comfortable lead and...
Yvan Muller took a straightforward win in the Sprint race although he came under late-race pressure from Warren Hughes's MG and Vauxhall team-mate James Thompson. After an initial safety-car period Muller pulled away into a comfortable lead and was not really put under any pressure until the final lap, but he stayed focused and took his first win of the season.
Matt Neal (+9kg) started the race from pole-position with the Vauxhall Astra Coupe of James Thompson (+42kg) alongside in second place. Thompson's team-mate Yvan Muller (+30kg) lined up third after suffering differential problems in qualifying and Anthony Reid (+18kg) a fine fourth position in his MG ZS. The success ballasts reflect the results of the previous round, the Feature Race at Brands Hatch ran two weeks ago.
As the lights turned green Matt Neal caught a lot of wheelspin but managed to hold the lead down to the first corner as Thompson alongside made a slow start. Muller went straight past his teammate up to second and Tim Harvey improved from 6th to 3rd at the first corner. Unfortunately John B&Q tangled with Steve Wood and crashed heavily at the hairpin, forcing the safety car to be deployed for four laps.
Neal kept his lead at the restart as Paul O'Neill pulled into the pits to retire with a mechanical problem. However Neal was awarded a drive-through penalty for being out of position at the start, as the Egg Vauxhall driver started too far left of his allocated grid position. He took the penalty a lap later and rejoined last.
Muller now led the race from Hughes and behind them Harvey tried to get past Reid but ran wide allowing Thompson past to take third. Matt Neal continued his charge through the field and was up to sixth by lap 12. Muller, Hughes and Thompson held station up at the front with Reid, Neal and Harvey all bunched up close behind. Neal then successfully outbreaked Reid into the first corner to move up to fourth, and Priaulx tried the same move on David Leslie but was unsuccessful. He past the Proton at the end of the lap though and moved up to seventh.
Hughes and Thompson gradually closed up to Muller and at the start of the last lap all three drivers were bumper-to-bumper. Despite a last-corner lunge by Thompson the three drivers crossed the line in the same order and Muller took the chequered flag by less than a second.
Asked if he was relieved to get his first win of the season under his belt, Muller replied "Yes, of course, especially after my unlucky meeting at Brands Hatch where I was on pole but I couldn't win any race, so here I was a bit more lucky so yes it's good."
1 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 31:13.725
2 Warren Hughes (MG ZS) +0.856
3 James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +1.347
4 Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +5.466
5 Anthony Reid (MG ZS) +10.994
6 Aaron Slight (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) +19.415
7 Andy Priaulx (Honda Civic Type-R) +21.423
8 David Leslie (Proton Impian) +21.451
9 Gareth Howell (MG ZS) +24.832
10 Alan Morrison (Honda Civic Type-R) +28.448