Vauxhall thinks tactics

BTCC points leaders Yvan Muller and James Thompson may switch tactics in the closing races of the season to ape SEAT's Jason Plato by throwing the first race at Brands Hatch this weekend in order to secure better starting positions for for their Vauxhalls for races two and three

Vauxhall thinks tactics

"Should VX Racing be looking at revising its race strategies?" asks Vauxhall's motorsport manager Stuart Harris. "It's a difficult call. We feel that racing for ninth and tenth places in race one short-changes the fans. We also have two drivers vying for the title and the pressure is on them -- both are hungry for another championship title. Every race counts, they need to be taking as many points as possible."

The strategy that SEAT and Plato have adopted has worked well because the grid for the second race of the weekend is partially reversed with the 10th place finisher in race one taking pole for race two. The grid for race three reflects the finishing order for race two, so a driver finishing 10th in race one is likely to secure more top grid slots over the weekend than one who takes pole in qualifying and wins race one.

Vauxhall's stars have so far worked to finish as high up the order as possible in every race. For the first half of the season it worked well and they built a substantial points lead. Of late though others - notably SEAT and the WSR MGs - have started to match or beat the Vauxhall pace and the lead built up by Muller and Thompson has been eroded, hence their contemplation of a change of tactics.

MG driver Anthony Reid is their closest title rival at the moment though, and he has stuck to the same strategy as the Vauxhall drivers. It brought him easily the biggest points-haul at the last meeting at Knockhill. "I think I've proved the tactics work, when you've got the pace in the car," said Reid. The problem for Vauxhall is that its Astra, which has dominated the series since 2001, no longer appears to be the class of the field.

Any tactical moves from Vauxhall this weekend will add extra intrigue to what is already shaping into a fascinating end-game for the championship. After one of the best races in the championship's history at Knockhill, this weekend's Brands Hatch races will be crucial to the destination of the drivers' title - Vauxhall still has a strong lead in the manufacturers' race - not least because Muller and Thompson are just one point apart at the top and desperate for every last point in their own personal battle.

"It is very close between me and Yvan," explained Thompson. "There is just one point in it, but we're certainly not safe. If the others keep getting the results they are going to catch us. We have to get the results and score as many points as we can. The decision on strategy is a difficult one to make as neither Yvan nor I can really afford to lose any points."

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