BTCC blasts off in Ireland on Easter Monday

James Thompson is back to defend the BTCC title that he won with Vauxhall last autumn, but there's no guarantee that he'll even end the 10-round campaign as the top Vauxhall driver as works team-mate Yvan Muller has a score to settle after being beaten to last year's crown. Their battles alone will be worth the price of the admission ticket, but there's much more to watch, as outlined in the full preview in this week's Autosport maagazine

BTCC blasts off in Ireland on Easter Monday

Matt Neal leads the Honda attack and David Leslie the second-season bid from Malaysian manufacturer Proton, but it's MG's drivers who look set to offer the sternest challenge, with Warren Hughes and Anthony Reid having flown in testing. Just as Vauxhall is entering a third car for Paul O'Neill, MG has added a third for Colin Turkington, while Hona's trio is completed by Alan Morrison and teenager Tom Chilton.

Giving the others a headstart, former BTCC champion Jason Plato will be joining in the fun and games in a GA Motorsport Vauxhall from the second round at Brands Hatch on May 5 onwards.

Three other former champions, John Cleland, Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell, have tipped Muller, Muller and Reid respectively for championship glory. They will have a clearer indication of the accuracy of their predicitions when the dust settles on Monday night.

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