Warren Hughes blasted the MG ZS to its first BTCC win of the year in the tricky drying conditions of round seven at Silverstone - sweeping past poleman Matt Neal on the fourth lap and then motoring away to a comfortable win. Paul O'Neill was second in the second Egg Astra from an inspired David Leslie, who nipped the Proton past Andy Priaulx's Honda on the last lap and almost overhauled O'Neill too.
"That was fantastic," said Hughes after the race, "and what amazed me was how adaptable the car was. It works in all conditions." That was what was needed today as a heavy shower drenched the circuit before the race. The rain had stopped before the green lights though and with clear weather obviously on its way a couple of drivers gambled on slick tyres. Hughes was not one though and he and the majority turned out to be right.
Neal just about held onto his pole advantage at the start as Hughes and O'Neill battled over second place at Copse. Hughes came out on top and in the wettest early laps Neal and Hughes pulled away at the front until, four laps in, Hughes swept into the lead into Priory with a clean and calculated move. Once past the MG simply drove away to a fine win.
Neal though was struggling, reckoning that the extra weight he was carrying (48kg more than Hughes) was making his tyres go off quicker than the others on the drying track. He eventually finished sixth.
The ever more impressive O'Neill, once past Neal looked secure in second until the dying laps. Priaulx had made fantastic progress in the early laps from 13th on the grid and was up to third and closing in on the Astra, while himself being reeled in by Leslie's Proton - both series newcomers having made big strides forward with their cars this weekend. On the last lap, the trio, in a close group, came up on BTC Production cars. Leslie played it best as Priaulx was held up and he grabbed the third podium slot and almost the second, at the last gasp. Priaulx was simultaneously delighted at the improvement in his car's form over qualifying and gutted that the first podium for the team had slipped away from him.
Alan Morrison was a disappointed fifth, Neal sixth and Phil Bennett seventh, having set the quickest lap by a car on wets. Just behind him was the man who took the extra point for the fastest lap overall - James Thompson. Thommo, along with Anthony Reid had gambled on slicks. It was a close call, but ultimately the wrong one - though both now have the fall-back benefit of lightweight cars for the feature race. Yvan Muller had switched to slicks in the pits after the final formation lap and started at the back - he took the last point.
Aaron Slight was the top Independents' Cup finisher in 11th place, with the Barwell Astra, though both Atomic Kitten MGs had led the way. Hareth Howell was up to a brilliant fourth early on lap one, but a broken throttle return spring caught him out and he ploughed off at Priory (followed by an unsighted Tim Harvey, who was copying his braking point). Colin Turkington was well up, battling with Dan Eaves (terminal understeer dropped him to 13th) and Bennett, before engine problems slowed and then stopped him.
In BTC Production Norman Simon took the win by a whisker from a rejuvenated Rob Collard - in his first race since the season's opening meeting at Brands after suffering a catalogue of engine problems on the Clio. Kelvin Burt was a disappointed third after dominating qualifying. Robust treatment from his competitors on the opening lap dropped him back, then a couple of overshoots compounded the problem. A last lap do-or-die effort at Abbey had him briefly ahead, but he overshot and was back to third.
BTCC result round 7, Silverstone
Pos Driver Car Time Speed
1 Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 25m09.904s 80.55mph
2 Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 25m17.573s 80.14mph
3 David Leslie (Proton Impian) 25m17.982s 80.12mph
4 Andy Priaulx (Honda Civic Type-R) 25m19.472s 80.04mph
5 Alan Morrison (Honda Civic Type R) 25m28.268s 79.58mph
6 Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 25m30.566s 79.46mph
7 Phil Bennett (Proton Impian) 25m32.764s 79.34mph
8 James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 25m35.196s 79.22mph
9 Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 25m40.414s 78.95mph
10 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 25m42.202s 78.86mph
1 Norman Simon (BMW 320i) 26m38.114s 76.10mph
2 Rob Collard (Renault Clio) 26m39.171s 76.05mph
3 Kelvin Burt (Alfa Romeo 156) 26m40.062s 76.01mph
Portugal / Results
Standings / After 12 races
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|Emilia Romagna||Imola||1 Nov|
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Berlin / Results
|2||Nyck de Vries||47m23.447s|
Standings / After 11 races
|1||Antonio Felix da Costa||158|
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