Sprint race: Thommo's pressure win

James Thompson drove a good race under pressure to score his second British Touring Car Championship win of the season in the sprint race at Donington Park

Sprint race: Thommo's pressure win

Thompson's Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe was first into Redgate, with team mate Phil Bennett following him through to second after shouldering inside Yvan Muller.

Muller then took advantage of Bennett's slow exit from the Old Hairpin to take second into McLeans. Jason Plato followed him through, and Steve Soper's Peugeot also looked to take advantage, only to make contact with Bennett and send the Vauxhall into a spin and down to last.

Muller and Plato then engaged in a great intra-team battle of the works Vauxhalls for second.

Plato made it by into the Melbourne hairpin on the fourth lap after hitting Muller up the rear. Then, three laps later, the Frenchman - now missing his rear bumper - dived inside at the Goddards hairpin, benefiting from being in the blind spot of Plato, whose left-side mirror had become folded in at the start of the race.

With four laps to go the safety car appeared in order to clear up oil left by the expiring Production class Honda of Simon Graves at the Fogarty Esses - despite the fact that the tin-tops had already raced through the scene of the spillage for three laps.

At the restart, Thompson managed to work through the remainder of the Production class boys (which were leading the race overall due to the BTCC's odd handicapping system), the closest moment being as he and Muller scraped down the inside of Gavin Pyper's Alfa Romeo into the Esses.

Muller then had a look at Redgate, contact with Thompson sending the leader into an oversteery slide.

Instantly Plato was right on Muller's tail, and claimed second with a sweet manoeuvre into the Esses. Thompson was too far up the road by now, and in any case Plato had to really defend over the final two laps.

"I built a four-second gap and then chilled out," said Thompson, "but then the oil went down. I was braking at the Esses and thinking 'Oh crikey' as I ran onto the grass. That picked up some rubbish on my left-side tyres and cost me two seconds.

"I was determined not to lose the lead after the safety car and just tried to put a Production car between me and Yvan."

Muller and Plato were all smiles after their battle. "It was great fun," said the Englishman. "I trust him and know he isn't going to do anything stupid."

Muller added: "It was OK - and even if it wasn't I wouldn't tell you! At least it was a good show for the spectators and TV."

Bennett predictably recovered to fourth, while Dan Eaves won a battle of the Peugeots with Steve Soper to claim fifth.

The third 406 of Aaron Slight had a great early battle with Lexus driver Kurt Luby who, sporting a strange new coiffure, raced hard in a bid not to be the last of the part-time Mohicans with the now spikey-topped Kiwi. Eventually Luby retired with left-front suspension damage and, with a shortage of parts to repair the car, he will not race later today.

Tim Harvey's engine-troubled Alfa, meanwhile, failed to even make the start.

The Production race was equally dramatic and was won by Roger Moen, the Norwegian the only front-runner not to hit problems.

Moen's HTML Peugeot team mate Simon Harrison was out front until horrendous brake problems, caused by a loss of fluid, caught him out and he toured round to claim the final point for 10th.

"There's no question that it's not going to last for the feature," said Harrison. "I'll just have to cruise around in midfield."

Harrison's title rival James Kaye, meanwhile, lost fifth gear in his Barwell Honda and had to stay out of trouble in a big early-race dust-up before just losing out in the battle for fourth with Rob Collard's Renault, which had taken an opportunist early lead at Redgate before being demoted down the order through the first lap.

Graves was challenging Moen when his engine let go, and Gareth Howell retired his Ford early on with mechanical problems, meaning Gavin Pyper was able to take second after a race-long charge from the back of the grid, passing Mat Jackson after the safety car had returned to the pits.

Pyper, who was fastest in qualifying, was put to the rear of the grid because his Alfa 156's engine was changed between yesterday's free practice and qualifying sessions. He then only joined the grid at the last minute after his diff broke in a short practice session this morning to allow drivers to scrub their tyres in.

James Thompson (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe), 18 laps in 33m14.833s
Jason Plato (Vauxhall Astra Coupe), 33m16.634s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe), 33m17.529s
Phil Bennett (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe), 33m19.468s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406 Coupe), 33m4.436s
Steve Soper (Peugeot 406 Coupe),33m5.458s
Aaron Slight (Peugeot 406 Coupe), 33m28.742s
Thompson, 1m43.526s

Roger Moen (HTML Peugeot 306), 17 laps in 33m31.170s
Gavin Pyper (GA Janspeed Alfa Romeo 156), 33m32.204s
Mat Jackson (GR Motorsport Ford Focus), 33m32.731s
Rob Collard (Collard Racing Renault Clio), 33m37.410s
James Kaye (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord), 33m37.420s
Jim Edwards Jr (TCR Honda Accord), 33m48.690s
Simon Harrison (HTML Peugeot 306), 1m47.978s

Qualifying: Two in a row for Thompson
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Feature race: Plato performs

Feature race: Plato performs
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