Brands 1: Hughes takes overdue win

Warren Hughes broke his 2003 duck with an accomplished victory in the first race of today's Bank Holiday British Touring Car Championship meeting at Brands Hatch. Hughes led home an MG 1-3 with team-mate Colin Turkington finishing third behind championship leader Yvan Muller, after West Surrey Racing out-gunned the factory Vauxhall team in the pits

Brands 1: Hughes takes overdue win

Muller and James Thompson occupied the front row and established a lead at the start, pulling away slightly from Hughes who kept a watching brief in third. Behind them Honda's Matt Neal made a great start to move up to fourth and set about defending his position from Turkington and Paul O'Neill in the third Vauxhall.

As the leading trio pulled away, Turkington made concerted advances into Neal's fourth place and it wasn't until the Honda driver prepared to pit on lap 15 that the MG nipped down the inside at Clearways. O'Neill tried to follow Turkington through past Neal and was very nearly dragged into the pits as the Honda pealed down on to the apron.

The seeds of Vauxhall's downfall were sewn on the same lap when Thompson pitted from second. One of the tyre changers dropped a wheel nut and the resultant fumble lost the champion valuable time. Muller would come in the lap after but the Frenchman stalled as he pulled away. This left Hughes away and clear at the front after a trouble-free stop.

After the shake-up in the stops Muller found himself chasing down Hughes for the lead. Turkington was on his own in an excellent third place and Neal was once again in fourth, now having to defend heavily from O'Neill and an angry Thompson.

Thompson passed O'Neill at Paddock on lap 19 but could do nothing about Neal who drove an excellent race despite carrying heavy success ballast. Muller continued to pressure Hughes at the front but with five laps to go the Astra developed a water leak and the Frenchman's engine temperature began to rise. Muller decided it was safer to take the points.

"It's about bloody time!" said Hughes, who has endured a torrid middle of the season. "This win has been a long time coming and the last couple of races have been dreadful. I was really focussed coming here and I really wanted to win at Brands Hatch.

"The MG team made some great pitstops during the race and I knew I was going to get pressure from Yvan, but around here it is one thing catching and another thing passing so I was ready for him. Then when he developed a problem with his car late on I thought to myself: 'I'll take this thankyou very much'. It's a fantastic feeling."

Warren Hughes (MG) 29m58.504s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall) +2.713s
Colin Turkington (MG) +3.787s
Matt Neal (Honda) +8.526s
James Thompson (Vauxhall) +8.736s
Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall) +9.031s

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