Feature Race: Muller keeps his cool

Yvan Muller completed a good weekend for Vauxhall Motorsport by winning the feature race at Snetterton, ahead of team-mate James Thompson. Warren Hughes grabbed the third podium slot for MG

Feature Race: Muller keeps his cool

Matt Neal was again the big loser. The lanky midlander followed poleman Thompson off the grid, but soon slotted his 'weightless' Astra ahead of Thompson's max-ballast version into the Esses. Neal led until the pit-stops, when he lost time as the crew struggled to swap the right front, and dropped down to third. Thompson too had lost out in the pits, when he stalled his Astra, so it was Muller, with a perfect stop, who went into the lead from Thompson and Neal.

Just as Neal pitted, Honda's best shot at the win misfired. Alan Morrison had been right with the weightier Vauxhalls and reckoned he could go quicker. He planned a couple of hot laps before making his own stop. But then the front left tyre let go on the entrance to Coram. The Civic plunged headfirst into the barrier, but a nasty-looking impact was well-cushioned by the airbag barrier system. Morrison though, with some justification, reckoned he'd lost out on a chance of a win.

The safety car came out while the Civic was removed, and on the re-start, Neal was again on the move. A lap later he passed Thompson and after another tour he was in the lead. He did not pull away as expected though and a couple of tours later he had pulled off to retire with a transmission failure.

"I'm not really sure whether to laugh or to cry," he admitted. "At least I went down with all guns blazing - I find it harder to take when I've made a mistake."

Muller and Thompson now controlled the race from the front, ever aware of the possibility of punctures, but also of the presence not far behind of the MGs. Warren Hughes led the ZS squadron to start with, but Anthony Reid behind him felt he was quicker.

The Scot's first radio request to pass was turned down, but Hughes did then let him through. Before he could press his claim to be able to hassle the Astras, though Reid had a tyre let go between Riches and Sear. He had it changed and returned to finish 10th.

That left Hughes third, from Team Atomic Kitten stars Colin Turkington and Gareth Howell. Turkington was again the top Independent.

The production boys turned on a cracking show, with up to six cars fighting tooth and nail "And it was all very well-behaved," said second finisher Gavin Pyper. The Scot had been intent on taking his second win of the weekend, but went off at Sear while in the lead.

"I was down in seventh and almost praying for some of the usual dodgy driving to get rid of some of them ahead, but it didn't happen," he rued. Pyper still made it up to second again though.

Winner James Kaye agreed with Pyper's verdict on the good behaviour front and added that it had been: "A brilliant race and it was just good racing - for the first time this year."

Tom Boardman came through to an excellent third place in one of his best drives of the season in the BMW.


1 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra) 37m36.449s 90.31mph
2 James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra) 37m37.669s 90.26mph
3 Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 37m38.931s 90.21mph
4 Colin Turkington (MG ZS) 37m41.950s 90.09mph
5 Gareth Howell (MG ZS) 37m51.376 89.72mph
6 Carl Breeze (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 37m54.684s 89.59mph
7 Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 37m58.894s 89.42mph
8 Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra) 38m05.237s 89.17mph
9 Aaron Slight (Vauxhall Astra) 38m14.656s 88.81mph
10 Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 38m44.445s 87.67mph


1 James Kaye (Honda Civic Type-R) 38m51.462s 87.40mph
2 Gavin Pyper (Alfa Romeo 156) 38m54.168s 87.30mph
3 Tom Boardman (BMW 320i) 28 laps 87.15mph

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