Thompson and Plato pursue title

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James Thompson and Jason Plato drove back into contention for the British Touring Car Championship title when they ate into Yvan Muller's BTCC points lead at Donington Park yesterday. The Englishmen each took a win and a second as Muller had to settle for a pair of third places.

As a result, Muller's lead has been reduced to 20 points, with Thompson only one point further back.

Thompson took pole position for both races. In the sprint race he led all the way, as his team-mates Plato and Muller battled hard over second place. They left plenty of marks on each other's Vauxhall Astra Coupes, but no serious damage was done and both claimed to have enjoyed the battle, which Plato eventually won.

In the feature race, Plato took advantage of an early mistake by Thompson to take the lead. But when the safety car was deployed to allow a car to be moved from a dangerous place, he found himself stranded behind the Vauxhalls and the Peugeots of Dan Eaves and the guest driver and former World Superbike rider Aaron Slight.

It was an impressive series debut for Sleight, who enjoyed an extended time at the front while the safety car was on. He looked capable of matching his team-mates for speed and his spirited attempts to keep the sparring Vauxhalls behind when the safety car pulled off proved he is not afraid to mix it with the regulars. However, after Muller and Plato passed, his race was cut short by a broken driveshaft.

Muller then led, but brake problems allowed Plato and, then later, Thompson to pass.

The BTC Production class front-runners, Simon Harrison and James Kaye, both had troubled weekends and the class wins went to Roger Moen's Peugeot and Mat Jackson's Ford Focus.