Muller Wins Wet Knockhill Race 1

Yvan Muller claimed his first British Touring Car Championship victory at Knockhill with a hard-fought victory over title rival Matt Neal in treacherously wet conditions

Muller Wins Wet Knockhill Race 1

Muller's Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch teammate Colin Turkington struggled with wheelspin from pole position, allowing the third Team Dynamics Honda Integra-R of BTCC returnee Gareth Howell to get alongside on the outside into Duffus Dip and take a clear lead before McIntyres.

With Muller holding third place ahead of the fully-ballasted Neal off the line, Turkington duly relinquished second place to his team leader, with the Frenchman launching his attack on Howell into the Hairpin at the end of the first lap. Turkington attempted to follow Muller through across the start-finish line, with Howell holding on to retain second.

Unfortunately for Howell, former MG teammate Turkington nudged his left-rear quarter at the exit of Duffus, sending Howell into the McIntyres gravel and out of the race. This allowed Neal to get past the Northern Irishman for second before the safety car was deployed to recover Howell's stricken machine.

At the restart, Muller went late and established an immediate lead over Neal, with Turkington attacking for second. Eaves took advantage of Turkington's attempts to pass Neal to attack, making light contact with the third-placed car at McIntyres. This allowed Neal some breathing space to chase Muller.

Neal bided his time, allowing Muller to extend his lead to nigh on two seconds, before rapidly closing in on the Frenchman. By the end of lap 18, he was right behind the Astra, making a late move up the inside into the Hairpin on lap 20. The pair emerged onto the straight side-by-side, with Muller squeezing Neal on the straight. Unforunately for Muller, he was unable to hold off Neal, and was forced to give best at Duffus.

However, Neal still had Muller right on his tail, and at McIntyres Muller forced Neal wide to reclaim the lead, and seemingly the race. Although Muller again led by two seconds, Neal scythed into his lead and was able to try around the outside at the hairpin on the last lap. Again, the pair made contact, but Neal had lost momentum, allowing Muller to take the chequered flag to gain vital championship points.

Turkington was largely untroubled on his way to third place, as was Eaves in fourth, although the massive battle for fifth place involving Tom Chilton (Honda Civic), Jason Plato (SEAT Toledo) and the third Vauxhall of Gavin Smith briefly threatened to attack. It was Chilton who claimed fifth from Plato, although the SEAT of Luke Hines took seventh after getting past the MG of Rob Collard and Smith in the closing stages.

CLASSIFIED:

Pos  Driver              Make                    Time
 1.  Yvan Muller         Vauxhall Astra          27:30.191
 2.  Matt Neal           Honda Integra           +   0.734
 3.  Colin Turkington    Vauxhall Astra          +   6.156
 4.  Dan Eaves           Honda Integra           +  15.597
 5.  Tom Chilton         Honda Civic Type-R      +  16.624
 6.  Jason Plato         SEAT Toledo Cupra       +  17.371
 7.  Luke Hines          SEAT Toledo Cupra       +  18.613
 8.  Gavin Smith         Vauxhall Astra          +  21.110
 9.  Rob Collard         MG ZS                   +  21.938
10.  James Kaye          Honda Civic Type-R      +  22.984
11.  Jason Hughes        MG ZS                   +  38.023
12.  Ian Curley          Lexus IS200             +  41.274
13.  Mark Proctor        Vauxhall Astra Coupe    +  58.385
14.  Fiona Leggate       Vauxhall Astra Coupe    +  1 Lap

NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS:

     Driver              Make                  On Lap
     James Pickford      SEAT Toledo Cupra       10
     Gareth Howell       Honda Integra            1

Fastest lap: Matt Neal, 59.861 on lap 14
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