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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