Vauxhall back on top

Vauxhall was back on top in the Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship today with Yvan Muller quickest in testing at Thruxton, ahead of Monday's rounds five and six. The French ace smashed the Hampshire circuit's lap record, lapping the 2.356 mile track in his Vectra nearly two and a half seconds quicker than the pole position record of last year set by Rickard Rydell

Vauxhall back on top

Muller wasn't the only one to beat the 1999 record, however, as the Super Touring drivers took advantage of the new, smoother surface laid during the winter. The top nine times today were all under the 1min15.100s benchmark set by 1998 champion Rydell.

Ford's Alain Menu, who won both rounds last weekend at Donington Park, was closest to Muller. The Swiss star was less than two tenths of a second behind in his Mondeo, despite carrying 40kg of success ballast because of his victories. Vauxhall's Vincent Radermecker, of Belgium, finished third quickest, half a second adrift of his team-mate.

Honda's Danish driver Tom Kristensen, on his first visit to Thruxton, was fourth quickest in his Accord. Michelin Cup for Independents runner Matt Neal was an impressive fifth in his Nissan Primera.

Muller said: "The new surface here is very good. But a new track is always better than an old one because there is more grip and there are less bumps than before. Thruxton has made a lot of improvements and I am very impressed. I think today's times are a good pointer for the weekend. We were quickest in the test before Donington, but then not in the races. We will be challenging more here."

Scotland's David Leslie, last season's runner-up, deputised in the Honda Accord for the injured James Thompson and was tenth fastest.

Alan Morrison, driving the Touring Car VIP Club-run Peugeot 306, was quickest of the Class B cars, two and a half seconds quicker than Barwell Motorsport's Mark Lemmer in a Honda Integra Type R.

BTCC TESTING TIMES FROM THRUXTON
1 Yvan Muller (Fra) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 1m12.657s
2 Alain Menu (Swi) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 1m12.854s
3 Vincent Radermecker (Bel) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 1m13.205s
4 Tom Kristensen (Den) Team Honda Sport Honda Accord 1m13.270s
5 Matt Neal* (GB) Team Dynamics Nissan Primera GT 1m13.518s
6 Anthony Reid (GB) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 1m13.587s
7 Jason Plato (GB) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 1m13.695s
8 Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) Team Honda Sport Honda Accord 1m13.725s
9 Rickard Rydell (Swe) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 1m13.894s
10 David Leslie (GB) Team Honda Sport Honda Accord 1m14.205s
11 Colin Blair (GB) PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera GT 1m19.013s
12 Alan Morrison (GB)** Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306 Gti 1m21.880s
13 Mark Lemmer (GB)** Barwell Motorsport Honda Integra Type R 1m22.647s
14 James Kaye (GB)** Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord 1m23.477s
* = Michelin Cup for Independents driver
** = Class B

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