Race 3: Thommo crowned

James Thompson has clinched his second British Touring Car Championship title after finishing third in the final round of the season at Donington Park. Team-mate and title rival Yvan Muller took the race win ahead of SEAT's Jason Platon, but the day belonged to Thompson

Race 3: Thommo crowned

Just six points separated title protagonists Thompson and Muller as they lined up on the grid for the final race of the season. The Frenchman had the advantage lining up second on the front row while Thommo was further down in fifth.

The build-up of tension was released with full gusto on the first lap as Muller took the lead while polesitter Tom Chilton, who was heavily loaded with success ballast, dropped down the order. Honda's Dan Eaves was the first to pass him for third, swiftly followed by Thompson, who emerged unscathed from his run on the grass at the start.

SEAT's Jason Plato, winner of the first race today (Sunday) decided he wanted a bit of the action moving up to fifth before passing both Thompson then Eaves to takes second.

Realising he needed to reclaim his third spot or else risk Muller taking the win and the championship, Thompson put his foot to Eaves and the all-important third spot. In the process the Briton claimed the fastest lap of the race to guarantee he would secure the championship should Muller take victory.

With all the action going on behind him, Muller opened up a gap on his chasers, only for it to be taken from him with the deployment of the safety car. It wasn't good news for Thompson either, you could have done without any pressure from behind.

As the safety car pulled in it seemed Plato was just biding his time before making his move on Muller while Thompson effectively sat back and let the two have their scrap ahead.

But Muller fended off the pressure to take his fifth win of the season, it needn't have mattered though, for team-mate Thompson had secured what the Frenchman wanted the most - the 2004 BTCC title - by just one point.

Thompson, who also won the title in 2002, believed victory this year was sweeter. "When I won it the first time I was quite emotional but with the fight we've had all year to take it down to the last race of the year, it's great," he said. "I just let them get on with it to be honest, but the car was fantastic, but I was getting all emotional and I thought I'd better stay where I am!

"It's hard to put into words how gutted he [Muller] must feel, I know I would be absolutely devastated, what can I say, but me and him have been so evenly matched this year."

Muller added: "It was a great collaboration between us for three years, we are a part of this great team but I think we were very close together to the very end."

Thompson will not be in the championship in 2005 having signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to drive in the all-new World Touring Car Championship. The Briton was delighted to end his BTCC career on a high.

"It's fantastic, I never wanted to finish the season being number two, I wanted to win it and at the end of the day I'm absolutely elated, to walk away from Vauxhall as number two is not the way to go, I'm made up."

Yvan Muller Vauxhall 23m36.493s
Jason Plato SEAT +0.291s
James Thompson Vauxhall +0.642s
Dan Eaves Honda +2.691s
Robert Huff SEAT +3.131s
Colin Turkington MG ZS +6.680s
Robert Collard Vauxhall +8.853s
Anthony Reid MG ZS +9.187s

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