Feature race: Two easy for Muller

Yvan Muller swept all before him again to take maximum points from the BTCC's Irish trip and ease his points lead over Jason Plato out to 27 points - at least a win and a third place.

Feature race: Two easy for Muller

In front of an all-time record crowd at the refurbished track outside Dublin, Muller led away at the rolling start and was never seriously challenged. Plato spent more time defending second place from James Thompson than he did thinking about closing in on Muller.

"Maximum points, couldn't be better," said Muller, particularly pleased that he'd managed to convert two poles into two wins. "After Silverstone [where two poles had brought him no wins] I was worried about the set-up. In the race I was getting understeer and I did not know how to manage it. Here we found a great set-up."

The extra 30kg of ballast imposed on all Vauxhalls, added to the 60kg success ballast earned by Muller appeared to make little or no difference to the Astra, Muller even acknowledged that his car was better here with the extra weight than it had been without it at Silverstone. "We all seem to get some strange results with this weight," he admitted.

Plato's second place came after a long battle with Thompson. Thommo even put the Egg Sport Astra up into second place briefly just after the pitstops, but once Plato's tyres had come in he took the place back. Thompson was much happier with his car's speed than he had been in the sprint, but admitted that his set-up was a little too hard on the tyres. "It was a bit too aggressive," he said, "but we're making progress." Third place was his reward.

Fourth, and last, BTCT was Phil Bennett, once again close to team mate Thompson's pace over the race. He'd survived an early skirmish with Kurt Luby's Lexus and a later whack with Dan Eaves Peugeot after the 406's engine cut momentarily. Luby's steering was broken in the impact with Bennett and he was out after just one lap.

Eaves ran well early on, but dropped back behind Bennett and Steve Soper when his engine cut. He carried on, scattering rear bodywork, but eventually retired when the electrical problem returned.

Soper was easing up towards Bennett, when he thought he felt a wheel loosen. Three pit stops later the problem was diagnosed as a broken steering rack and Soper was out of the race.

James Kaye made it a double in BTCP and is now a point ahead of Simon Harrison in the standings.

Kaye's Barwell Motorsport team had worked miracles to change the blown engine in its second car between races and Simon Graves was able to take the start from pole.

Again the action was frenzied in the early laps. Graves tangled with Alfa driver Gavin Pyper and picked up substantial damage, but held onto the lead. Pyper retired with bent rear suspension.

Graves' Accord though was sick. The biff with Pyper had broken the gearbox casing and oil was flowing out. Graves let Kaye by, who'd bided his time during the physical stuff and then moved up to second, up into the lead. Despite losing sixth, then fifth, Graves held second but when fourth went too, he called it a day.

Eventually Paul O'Neill worked his way up into an excellent second place. "I'm starting to realise that I'm a top six driver," mused O'Neill. "Watch out you guys!"

Mat Jackson had been involved in the early action at the front and eventually recovered to third, passing Harrison with two laps to run. Harrison held on for fourth. "We really feel the lead [success ballast] here," he explained after dropping gradually down the field.

Yvan Muller (Vauxhall) 54m50.315s 30 laps
Jason Plato (Vauxhall) 54m57.078s
James Thompson (Vauxhall) 55m06.406s
Phil Bennett (Vauxhall) 55m10.106s
James Kaye (Honda P) 29 laps
Paul O'Neill (Peugeot P) 29 laps
Mat Jackson (Ford P) 29 laps
Simon Harrison (Peugeot P) 29 laps
Colin Blair (Alfa Romeo P) 29 laps
Rick Kraemer (Ford P) 28 lap

Yvan Muller 143pts
Jason Plato 116
James Thompson 111
Phil Bennett 79
Steve Soper 40
Dan Eaves & Kurt Luby 33; etc

James Kaye 108pts
Simon Harrison 107
Roger Moen 78
Mat Jackson 59
Gareth Howell 56
Gavin Pyper 45; etc.

Manufacturers: 1 Vauxhall 346; 2 Peugeot105.

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