Donington sprint: Thommo edges closer

Vauxhall's James Thompson gave his British Touring Car Championship title hopes the best possible boost with victory in the Sprint race at Donington Park today (Sunday)

Donington sprint: Thommo edges closer

Thompson lost his pole position advantage by "making one of my trademark poor starts", allowing Matt Neal (Egg Vauxhall) to lead. Thompson's team-mate and title rival Yvan Muller snatched second at the start, but Thompson biffed him at McLeans, knocking the Frenchman wide. Andy Priaulx's Honda grabbed third position on the run up to Coppice and closed right in on Thompson's tail over the next few laps, as Muller fell back.

James decided to attack, forcing his way past Neal for the lead at Redgate on lap four, with Priaulx also finding a way past the Egg man. Neal fought back, however, slicing past Priaulx at Goddards on lap 12.

Neal then threw away all his good work when his car's brake balance caught him out at Melbourne with just four laps to go, letting Priaulx back into second. He chased down Thompson in the closing stages, and finished just three tenths behind at the finish.

Neal finished third, complaining of a steering problem after slight contact with Priaulx during their dice, while MG's Anthony Reid biffed his way past Muller, whose car was smoking through Schwantz curve throughout the race, at Redgate for fourth. "I couldn't back out of it, you can't defy the laws of physics," he claimed.

Muller finished a disgruntled fifth: "I overtook three cars with no contact, all the passes on me were with contact," he said. "It looks like the agreement [between him and Thompson] is over."

Thompson's response to that was: "Well, he was the one who told me that at Brands [where they collided previously]."

There were two safety car periods during the race, one for Aaron Slight (who went off at Redgate on the opening lap) and another when Graham Saunders ploughed into the tyres at the Old Hairpin. Slight's lead in the Independents' Cup has now disappeared, promoting Gareth Howell on to pole position for the crown until he was removed by a combination of Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall) and Phil Bennett (Proton) at Melbourne.

Victory for Dan Eaves (Peugeot) has given him the points lead, but Slight's car appears to be too damaged to be repaired in time for the Feature, so the title could already have been decided in Dan's favour.

James Kaye scooped the BTC Production championship with third position in his Syncro Honda, despite a front brake failure midway through the race. "I'm grand!" the Yorkshireman declared afterwards.

Kaye shadowed a battle between Gavin Pyper (Alfa Romeo) and Norman Simon (BMW), which was won by Pyper after they swapped the lead a couple of times.

James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 37m38.566s
Andy Priaulx (Honda Civic Type-R) 37m38.870s
Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 37m43.514s
Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 37m46.732s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 37m47.776s
David Leslie (Proton Impian) 37m49.863s
Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 37m56.528s
Phil Bennett (Proton Impian) 37m57.921s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406) 37m59.124s
Alan Morrison (Honda Civic Type-R) 37m59.471s

Gavin Pyper (Alfa Romeo 156) 38m39.724s
Norman Simon (BMW 320i) 38m40.172s
James Kaye (Honda Civic Type-R) 38m48.259s

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Qualifying: Thommo evens the score

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