Eaves Makes it Three in Thruxton

Dan Eaves seized the lead of the British Touring Car Championship title chase at Thruxton on Sunday after completing a hat-trick of victories in a controversial and spectacular end to the day's events

Eaves Makes it Three in Thruxton

Eaves carved his way up from 10th on the grid to take the victory from Vauxhall duo Colin Turkington and Yvan Muller, but the race was marred by crashes, Safety Car shenanigans and bruising tactics that delighted the huge number of spectators who had turned up.

At the start, Luke Hines had got away cleanly from the second row of the grid to grab the lead, but behind him there was chaos after Tom Chilton put in a rather optimistic move at the Complex to try and move up the order from fourth place.

His overtaking attempt ended in major contact with pole position man Gavin Smith, which put both cars out on the spot, and also caused minor damage to Turkington's Vauxhall, which slipped down the order.

The race organisers felt that Smith and Chilton's cars had stopped in a dangerous place and called out the Safety Car at the end of lap one - at the very moment that then third placed Jason Plato was making a move on second-placed Muller.

Plato grabbed the position just after the Safety Car boards had come out and, well aware of his rules infringement, the SEAT driver then made several attempts to slow down and let Muller get his position back.

But Muller was not interested in taking the place back - and was probably well aware that his arch rival would be given a penalty if he did not accept the second place back.

Plato soon realised that there was little point in waiting for Muller and, after the Safety Car came back in, he swiftly made his move past leader Hines on the run to the chicane and duly set about trying to build up a lead.

Muller did not find it as easy to get past Hines and, under pressure from the following Matt Neal, Turkington and Eaves, there was soon a mammoth fight for the second spot - with plenty of wheel-banging as they jostled for position.

By the time that Plato came in for his stop-go penalty at the end of lap 14, the fighting between the cars behind him had resulted in Eaves coming out on top to move into the lead that he would keep until the chequered flag.

Behind the Team Halfords Honda driver, Turkington had got up into second after Hines slipped down the order following a collision with Neal. But Turkington was going to have to work hard to keep that position with Neal on the charge - and on the final lap the pair made light contact during a head-to-head run into the Chicane.

Turkington held on to second but the incident cost Neal a bit of momentum, which allowed Muller to pip him across the line for third place. Plato recovered to finish fifth, ahead of James Pickford and James Kaye.

BTCC Race Result, Thruxton - Round Six

Pos Driver Make Time Laps Gap 1. Dan Eaves Honda Integra 26:09.675 18 2. Colin Turkington Vauxhall Astra Sport 26:11.010 18 1.335 3. Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Sport 26:11.700 18 2.025 4. Matt Neal Honda Integra 26:11.739 18 2.064 5. Jason Plato SEAT Toledo Cupra 26:12.054 18 2.379 6. James Pickford SEAT Toledo Cupra 26:12.393 18 2.718 7. James Kaye Honda Civic Type-R 26:13.018 18 3.343 8. Luke Hines SEAT Toledo Cupra 26:16.738 18 7.063 Not Classified Rob Collard MG ZS 19:30.872 13 D.N.F. Gavin Smith Vauxhall Astra Sport 0 D.N.F. Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type-R 0 D.N.F. Fastest Lap: Jason Plato 1:19.445
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