Sprint race: Plato nicks ahead of Muller

Jason Plato scored his second British Touring Car Championship race win of the season in the evening instalment of the Silverstone night race meeting

Sprint race: Plato nicks ahead of Muller

Plato got the better of a sprint race battle with polesitting works Vauxhall team mate Yvan Muller, then held the Frenchman off to the finish.

Muller got the best getaway in his Astra Coupe, but Plato - driving in extremely spectacular fashion - was clearly thristing to get past the leader, who was suffering from excessive understeer.

Eventually Plato made it through with a good manoeuvre in the stadium section on the fourth lap, diving inside Muller into Brooklands and then completing the move before Luffield.

The gap ebbed and flowed as they made their way through Production class traffic, but Muller was mindful of the Egg Sport Vauxhalls of James Thompson and Phil Bennett in his mirrors and settled for second.

"I was a little bit quicker in some of the corners that matter, like Becketts and Priory," explained Plato. "I tried to make it stick three times and it worked the third time. I really wanted to win that - a hard scrap, but clean and fair.

"There just didn't seem to be light at the end of the tunnel this morning after a lot of problems, so it's nice to reward my guys with a win. Because of those problems I've gone for a more middle-of-the-road set-up than Yvan, and the nice thing is it seemed better at the end of the race. I'm loathe to touch it now!"

Thompson worked his way ahead of Egg Vauxhall team mate Bennett, despite being edged onto the grass down the back straight as they battled early in the race. "Not very gentlemanly," he concluded. Thompson's pace was much quicker than in qualifying after the team tore his car apart, finding an oil leak.

Dan Eaves won the Peugeot fight for fifth after Steve Soper made a mistake at Becketts in the closing laps, while Kurt Luby (who spun his Lexus at the first corner of the race) and Dave Pinkney (Alfa) trailed in far adrift. The other Alfa of Tim Harvey expired on the opening lap.

A good battle for Production class honours between the HTML Peugeots of Simon Harrison and Roger Moen went the Englishman's way after the Norwegian goofed at Becketts by outbraking himself with four laps to go. "That mistake is so easy to make," acknowledged Harrison, "and he was driving very nicely up to then. I just couldn't get through, despite pushing hard for five laps."

Paul O'Neill took his first podium finish with third in his Techspeed Peugeot, but had to fight off a massive last-lap challenge from back-of-grid starter Mat Jackson (Ford Focus). Jackson was one of many forced to start from the back after carrying out engine changes since qualifying. Title contender James Kaye was one of them and should have finished third, but made a couple of mistakes and was forced to settle for fifth. Gavin Pyper was also well up, challenging the leading HTML Peugeots, but spun on the second lap and later retired.

Jason Plato (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 16 laps in 23m32.779s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 23m34.632s
James Thompson (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 23m36.502s
Phil Bennett (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 23m36.742s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 23m49.156s
Steve Soper (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 23m50.147s
Kurt Luby (ABG Motorsport Lexus IS200) 24m14.911s
Dave Pinkney (JSM Alfa Romeo 147) 24m22.509s
Fastest lap Thompson 1m28.507s

Simon Harrison (HTML Peugeot 306) 15 laps in 23m23.813s
Roger Moen (HTML Peugeot 306) 23m24.879s
Paul O'Neill (Techspeed Peugeot 306) 23m47.669s
Mat Jackson (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) 23m47.939s
James Kaye (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) 23m48.734s
Rob Collard (Collard Racing Renault Clio) 23m51.876s
Fastest lap Harrison 1m32.316s

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