Qualifying: Muller takes pole double

Yvan Muller took both pole positions for Sunday's British Touring Car Championship races at Oulton Park

Qualifying: Muller takes pole double

The factory Vauxhall Astra Coupe driver set the fastest two times in the qualifying session to enable him to pick up the two bonus points for his brace of poles.

What ostensibly appeared to be a remarkable lap by the Frenchman in 1m27.415s, nearly 0.2s clear of anyone else, was explained in amusing fashion by Muller.

"During the beginning of the session I didn't drive very well," he said. "When I came into the pits after setting a 1m27.6s, I said on the radio that if I don't drive like an a***hole I can do better! And that's what I did on my next lap."

Muller reckoned the next lap would have been quicker still, only for his Vauxhall to stop with a mechanical problem which he described as "nothing special".

All the Vauxhall drivers are suffering huge brake problems at Oulton, with the tight Knickerbrook chicane following on from the even tighter Island hairpin. The standard TOCA parts are not as effective as the Super Touring brakes of old, while the Astras' suffering is exacerbated by their respective levels of success ballast (Phil Bennett is carrying the least, at 30kg).

Added to that, Jason Plato had a gearbox problem which he felt restricted him to second on both grids. "Every time I pulled a gear there was loads of ringing in the box, which was causing oscillations on the revs. It's not much, but when you add it all up it's probably equivalent to a couple of tenths."

The Egg Sport Vauxhalls of James Thompson and Phil Bennett are next, chased by the encouragingly fast Peugeot of Steve Soper. But Soper's times, in the mid-1m28s bracket, were scrubbed. The 406 would not start on the weighbridge when it was checked mid-session, meaning the cancellation of times set up to that point. Then the team failed to call Soper in, as BTCC rules require, for a check on the following lap, meaning his exclusion from the whole session.

What appeared to be Peugeot falling foul of one of the oldest BTCC banana skins in the book was explained by team manager Vic Lee: "Silly regulations don't bother me at the moment. We knew the car wouldn't start again, so track time was more important."

That promoted Soper's team mate Dan Eaves and the impressive Lexus of Kurt Luby to fifth place positions, although Eaves stopped on the circuit with oil leaking from his Peugeot.

Tim Harvey's Alfa was also close at hand, although team mate Dave Pinkney managed hardly any running.

In the Production class, Simon Harrison set a stunning last lap time to not only beat HTML Peugeot team-mate Roger Moen to pole position, but by a goalpost-shifting margin of 0.625s.


Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m27.644s
Jason Plato (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m27.748s
James Thompson (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m27.798s
Phil Bennett (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m28.079s
Kurt Luby (ABG Motorsport Lexus IS200) 1m29.860s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 1m30.125s
Tim Harvey (JSM Alfa Romeo 147) 1m30.151s
Dave Pinkney (JSM Alfa Romeo 147) very slow (4m42.334s!)
Steve Soper (Peugeot 406 Coupe) times disallowed


Muller 1m27.415s
Plato 1m27.608s
Thompson 1m27.821s
Bennett 1m27.984s
Eaves 1m29.555s
Luby 1m29.849s
Harvey 1m30.384s
Pinkney 1m38.688s (much quicker!)
Soper times disallowed


Simon Harrison (HTML Peugeot 306) 1m30.991s
Roger Moen (HTML Peugeot 306) 1m31.616s
Gavin Pyper (GA Janspeed Alfa Romeo 156) 1m31.835s
James Kaye (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) 1m32.060s
Gareth Howell (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) 1m32.746s
Rob Collard (Collard Racing Renault Clio) 1m33.110s
Mat Jackson (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) 1m33.120s
Peter Cate (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) 1m33.552s
Toni Ruokonen (CAM Motorsport Mitsubishi Carisma) 1m33.875s
Richard Meins (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) 1m34.066s

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