Sprint Race: Lights to flag win for Muller

Yvan Muller converted pole into a relatively easy sprint race win at Mondello Park. The Frenchman's satisfaction was all the greater because his closest points challenger, Vauxhall team mate Jason Plato, ran into problems and was the last BTC touring car to finish.

Sprint Race: Lights to flag win for Muller

"It was a good win," said Muller. "Pole, best lap and victory and the championship gap is bigger."

James Thompson inherited second place when Plato struck trouble and when Phil Bennett picked up a puncture the way was clear for Steve Soper to grab Peugeot's first BTCT podium finish of the year in third.

Muller's start from pole wasn't quite as good as Plato's from the outside of the front row, but the Frenchman's insideline kept him ahead despite a hint of rubbing on the run up to turn one. From there Plato never really looked capable of challenging and then at around half distance the Englishman started to feel a difference in the Astra's handling. On lap 12 Plato felt something break and set out to nurse the car slowly to the finish. Just after he passed the pit entrance he picked up a puncture - another slow lap and a pit stop later he finished last a lap down.

Thompson was happy with the position but not his pace. "Just not quick enough," admitted the Yorkshireman who is still rueing time lost to a misfire in free practice. Bennett in third had looked likely to come under attack from Soper in the closing stages, when the puncture settled things without a fight, sending Bennett pitward.

Soper was mildly pleased by his result. "We're getting there, slowly," he said. "The car was fine, and actually quite consistent." Kurt Luby was fourth in class in the Lexus, entertaining as usual with an aggressive first lap, but then dropping to the tail of the pack. When Dan Eaves' Peugeot ran into understeer problems Luby outbraked it into turn one to take fourth.

James Kaye took an excellent win in BTC Production, staying ahead of all but Muller on the road thanks to the quasi-handicap sprint format. Kaye stayed out of trouble in a bruising encounter in which Ford Focus man Gareth Howell and Peugeot 306 driver Roger Moen eventually took second and third places.

Poleman Simon Graves was the first quickboy to run into trouble, spun out half way round lap one by the already half-spun Focus of Mat Jackson. He battled back up the order in fine style, but then dropped out for good with an engine problem.

Howell led most of the early laps until Kaye worked his way past. Howell also dropped down to third behind Gavin Pyper's Alfa, but Pyper lost out again, locking up and sliding off after encountering Plato as he rejoined from the pits. "He was driving like an amateur," reckoned a very displeased Pyper. That dropped the Alfa to fourth in class behind Howell and Moen.

Yvan Muller (Vauxhall) 28m33.193s 15 laps
James Kaye (Honda P) 28m41.414s
James Thompson (Vauxhall) 28m42.571s
Steve Soper (Peugeot) 28m48.750s
Gareth Howell (Ford P) 28m50.969s
Roger Moen (Peugeot P) 28m52.804s
Gavin Pyper (Alfa Romeo P) 29m01.556s
Kurt Luby (Lexus) 29m05.713s
Simon Harrison (Peugeot P) 29m07.060s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot) 29m12.576s

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