Muller goes clear in championship

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The Independent Online

Yvan Muller put himself in pole position to claim his first Green Flag British Touring Car Championship with a double win here yesterday, extending his lead over his Vauxhall team-mate, James Thompson, to 20 points.

The Frenchman prevailed after Matt Neal's challenge faded in both contests. Muller started race one in fourth place on the grid, but battled past Thompson, who is the reigning champion, before just edging out the Honda driver Neal, who had qualified on pole position but was unable to hang on to top spot despite setting the fastest lap.

Neal finished second, just over half a second behind Muller, after being outdone at the pit stops. Vauxhall's Paul O'Neill scored his third consecutive third place, while Thompson was off the podium in fourth.

In race two, Neal had looked well placed to add to his win at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, but he lost almost a lap midway through the race after suffering a puncture.

That left Muller clear to win his third straight race, finishing more than 1.6 seconds ahead of Honda's Alan Morrison, while O'Neill kept up his run of third places.

Thompson finished fifth, behind the MG of Anthony Reid, who finally gave the Birmingham-based team something to cheer after a torrid weekend.

Reid and his team-mate Warren Hughes had both gone out during the opening lap of the first heat, but matters improved in race two as Hughes also claimed good points with sixth place.

GREEN FLAG MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP (Thruxton) Race 1: 1 Y Muller (Fr) Vauxhall Astra Coupe 37min 54.826sec; 2 M Neal (GB) Honda Civi +0.581sec; 3 P O'Neill (GB) Vauxhall Astra Coupe +12.216; 4 J Thompson (GB) Vauxhall Astra Coupe +14.579; 5 A Morrison (GB) Honda Civic +15.271; 6 G Pyper (GB) Vauxhall Astra Coupe +16.753; 7 T Chilton (GB) Honda Civic +22.539; 8 C Turkington (GB) MG ZS +38.362; 9 D Eaves (GB) Peugeot 307 +52.802; 10 C Breeze (GB) Peugeot 307 +53.098; 11 J Kaye (GB) Honda Civic +1min 05.896sec; 12 T Boardman (GB) Peugeot 307 +1:15.427; 13 L Hines (GB) Honda Civic +1 lap; 14 P Bennett (GB) Proton Impian 1 lap; 15 A Blencowe (GB) 1 lap; 16 M Bentwood (GB) BMW 320i 1 lap; 17 D Leslie (GB) Proton Impian 2 laps. Did not finish: P Wallace (GB) Alfa Romeo; J Edwards (GB) Honda Accord; R Collard (GB) Vauxhall Astra Coupe; W Hughes (GB) MG ZS; A Reid (GB) MG ZS. Fastest lap: M Neal Honda Civic Type-R 1min 19.152sec. Race 2: 1 Muller 33min 53.737sec; 2 Morrison +1.664; 3 O'Neill +4.087; 4 Reid +13.243; 5 Thompson (+15.150; 6 Hughes +17.812; 7 Kaye +34.896; 8 Leslie +54.662; 9 Bennett +1min 09.484sec; 10 Chilton +1:11.300; 11 Neal +1 lap; 12 Boardman +1 lap; 13 Hines +1 lap; 14l Bentwood +1 lap; 15 Blencowe +1 lap; 16 Edwards +2 laps. Did not finish: Wallace, Eaves, Turkington, Breeze, Pyper. Fastest lap: Hughes 1min 19.468sec.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Muller 87pts; 2 Thompson 67; 3 O'Neill 50; 4 Morrison 42; 5 Neal 38; 6 Reid 25; 7 Hughes 23; 8 Leslie 18; 9 Chilton 15; 10 Pyper 13.

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