Thompson replaces Plato at Vauxhall

The all-conquering Vauxhall British Touring Car team has confirmed that it has opted to move James Thompson into a full works seat for 2002 alongside Yvan Muller, in favour of this year's champion Jason Plato

Thompson replaces Plato at Vauxhall

Plato fought season-long with Muller to take the championship this year and friction between the pair was rife both on and off the track. Although the former eventually came out on top, the Englishman has long been tipped to be leaving the Triple Eight Engineering-run Vauxhall squad.

Vauxhall Motorsport boss Mike Nicholson believes the team needed to ensure it would have two drivers that would best defend the marque's drivers' and manufacturers' titles.

"There is no doubt that we are going to have some staunch competition in next year's BTCC and as reigning champions we wanted to field the two drivers who we feel would work well together to defend our titles in 2002," said Nicholson. "We have every confidence that we will be starting next year's assault on the BTCC with a formidable duo."

Thompson drove for the Egg-backed sister Vauxhall team alongside Phil Bennett this year and finished third in the standings behind Muller and Plato after 19 visits to the podium. It is the Brit's second stint as an official works Vauxhall driver after driving with the Ray Mallock-run team in 1995 and '96.

Plato has yet to announce where he will be driving next year, but has been linked to both the MG team and newcomer for 2002 Proton.

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