Silverstone round 11: Sprint Race report

James Thompson emerged victorious in the Sprint Race to put an end to his run of rotten luck.

Silverstone round 11: Sprint Race report

But he looked to have blown his chance at the start when he dropped from second to fourth thanks to a combination of his bad start and Honda Accord team-mate Gabriele Tarquini's rocketship-like launch off the line.

Italian Tarquini, the 1994 BTCC Champion and round eight winner, caught everyone by surprise and was on the boot lid of pole-sitter Rickard Rydell's Ford Mondeo by the first corner.

Despite strong defence from the Swede, Tarquini muscled his way through before the end of the first lap and pulled out a big lead over the chasing pack.

But at the start of lap three his Accord slid off into the gravel, after hitting oil, and his chance of victory was blown.

Although he returned to the track relatively unscathed Tarquini was at the back of the pack, which put Rydell, the 1998 BTCC Champion, back in front. He too had a comfortable lead, but his earlier skirmish with Tarquini had damaged the rear bumper of his Mondeo and he was ordered into the pits by the race officials to have it made safe. That dropped him to eighth and out of contention.

Behind, championship leader Alain Menu had failed to start when his Mondeo's clutch failed on the grid and Jason Plato was forced into retirement on lap two after a collision with Honda's Tom Kristensen, Plato's Vectra suffering broken suspension.

This all put Yvan Muller into fourth, from eighth on the grid, but the Vauxhall man was given a drive-through penalty for starting ahead of the marked grid position.

After he and Rydell had taken their pit-lane penalties, by lap seven, Thompson found himself at the front, with Ford's Anthony Reid second and Kristensen third.

Thompson had a 1.7-second advantage over the Scot in his Accord and was never troubled for the remainder of the 15-lap race.

Matt Neal came home fourth, the leading Michelin Cup for Independents runner enjoying a relatively trouble-free race in his Team Dynamics Nissan Primera.

Tarquini recovered from his off to finish fifth after he passed Vauxhall's Vincent Radermecker with two laps to go. Penalty takers Muller and Rydell came home seventh and eighth with Independent Colin Blair ninth in his PRO Motorsport Primera.

In Class B, pole position man Alan Morrison came through from the back of the grid to score another victory in his Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306 GTi, his sixth of the season, although he was made to work for it. Morrison's new team-mate Will Hoy, the 1991 BTCC Champion racing for the first time in this division, led for much of the event.

Barwell Motorsport's Mark Lemmer (Honda Integra Type R) and James Kaye (Honda Accord) were second and third and it was Lemmer, carrying 40kg of success ballast, who put up the stiffest resistance to the flying Morrison. They swapped positions several times before a ballast-free Morrison eventually came out on top. He then passed Hoy on lap 10 to take the lead and the pair looked good for a 1-2 finish.

However, an engine problem on Hoy's Peugeot forced his retirement which moved Kaye up to second and Lemmer to third, after the Barwell pair had traded places earlier.

Robert Collard (Bintcliffe Sport Racing, Nissan Primera) was fourth and Nick James, making his BTCC debut, brought his Arnold James Sport Honda Integra home fifth.

Thompson: "I think this makes up for the all the bad luck I've had so far this season. I made a very shoddy start, one that I'm not proud of, but as it happens I think it kept me out of the trouble. Once it all went off in front of me it was just a matter of leading the race. I'm always very comfortable when I'm leading. I kept a decent gap to Anthony and took it to the finish. I don't think I'm going to win the championship but I can certainly win as many races as I possibly can and be a real nuisance to the rest of the guys."

Reid: "It was another good solid result and it's all good for the big picture, the championship. As a racing driver it's one thing to have a job and to be driving a racing car that's such great fun, that's a privilege in itself, but to be driving in a car that's capable of winning is really good. I've never been in this position before in a touring car championship anywhere in the world."

Kristensen: "Being on the podium carrying 40kg is really perfect. I think the weight made a bit of difference in the slower corners, but not through the fast ones. Yesterday I was pleased I was a little bit quicker than Menu who also had 40kg and today being third is impressive I think."

Neal: "I think the team are quite amazed that with the amount of contact in that race I had none of it. I'm relieved to have a fourth place and they're relieved to have the car back in one piece. I didn't have a bad start, kept my place and then watched it all unfold in front of me. Unfortunately I didn't quite have the speed to catch Tom."

Morrison: "It's great to be back on the podium. Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. We didn't get any track time after some problems with the car, but with Will here we knew what set-up we needed. I had a good race but it was a shame the second car didn't finish because we could have taken some more points off the other guys."

Round 11 results
1 James Thompson Honda Accord 1:25.064
2. Anthony Reid Ford Mondeo +1.951s
3 Tom Kristensen Honda Accord +3.008s
4 Matt Neal* Nissan Primera GT +8.534s
5 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Accord +9.134s
6 Vincent Radermecker Vauxhall Vectra +9.683s
7 Yvan Muller Vauxhall Vectra +17.931s
8 Rickard Rydell Ford Mondeo +44.171s
9 Colin Blair* Nissan Primera GT +45.285s
10 Alan Morrison Honda Accord 1 Lap
11 James Kaye** Honda Accord 1 Lap
12 Mark Lemmer** Honda Integra R 1 Lap
13 Robert Collard** Nissan Primera 1 Lap
14 Nick James** Honda Integra R 1 Lap

Michelin Cup for Independents winner: Matt Neal
Class B winner: Alan Morrison
Fastest lap: Yvan Muller Vauxhall Vectra 1m24.840s, 95.43mph
NOT CLASSIFIED Will Hoy Peugeot 306 GTi (Engine): Jason Plato Vauxhall Vectra (Broken suspension); Alain Menu Ford Mondeo (Clutch)

*= Michelin Cup for Independents runner
**= Class B runner

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Silverstone round 12: Feature Race report

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