Mondello 1: Wet win for Thompson

James Thompson kept his calm in an incident-packed British Touring Car Championship opener at Mondello Park, taking the win after a downpour caused chaos

Mondello 1: Wet win for Thompson

The reigning BTCC champ inherited the lead after team-mate Yvan Muller pitted on the final of three safety car period that interrupted the race, and was able to pull away from the field over the final five laps to take victory by a comfortable margin.

The race started on a damp but drying track, with the entire field opting to run slick tyres. However, the track was soon hit with a sudden downpour, leaving the drivers struggling for grip on the dry rubber. The race order was jumbled as some teams dashed into the pits for wet tyres, whilst other attempted to stay on their slicks until the beginning of the compulsory pit-stop window on lap 10.

Pole-sitter Muller lead from MG driver Anthony Reid in the early going, but with conditions fast deteriorating, both pitted during a safety car period before the start of the pit window, handing the lead to Matt Neal. The Honda driver gambled that the Safety Car would stay out until the beginning of the pit window, but when it came in at the beginning of lap 10 he was left to complete on racing lap on his unsuitable slicks before pitting for new rubber, allowing Muller back in front.

A second safety car period saw a fleet of cars dash into the pits to make their compulsory stops. In the chaos Paul O'Neill and Phil Bennett clashed in the pit lane, causing the Proton driver to hit the podium vehicle! O'Neill received a drive-through penalty for the incident.

Out front Muller continued to lead until a third safety car period, caused by Gavin Pyper taking himself and Neal out of the race, prompted the Frenchman into the pits for his compulsory stop, allowing Thompson to assume the lead.

Muller resumed in fourth, but battled past Alan Morrison and Warren Hughes in the final dash to the flag to claim second behind his team-mate. Morrison shuffled MG driver Hughes down to third on the final lap of the race.

Rob Collard was the first, and only, Independents Class runner to finish, whilst Chris Ryan took victory ahead of Alan Blencowe in the Production Class.

James Thompson VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra 25 laps
Yvan Muller VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra +6.130s
Alan Morrison Honda Racing/Honda Civic +10.562s
Warren Hughes MG Sport/MG ZS +11.041s
David Leslie Team Petronas/Proton Impian +33.983s
Rob Collard Collard Racing/Vauxhall Astra +1m03.690s

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Muller takes pole for season-opener

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