Touring Cars: Thompson revives title challenge

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The Independent Online

James Thompson revived his BTCC title challenge with a win and a second place in rounds five and six here after a series of battles over the weekend with team-mate Yvan Muller – the pre-race points leader. There is now a three-way tie for the points lead between Thompson, Muller and Matt Neal.

Thompson won a hectic sprint race (round five) after a fierce dust-up with Yvan Muller, who had beaten Thompson to pole position for both races. The Frenchman led the early laps, but Thompson came back at him in the second half.

When the pair started to lap cars in the BTC Production class, Muller was held up and Thompson attacked. Eventually slipping past round the fast back-section of the track, Muller re-passed going into the chicane, but slid wide and Thompson was ahead again. The two cars touched at the complex and Muller's car suffered front-suspension damage that put it out of the race.

Thompson cruised home to win as Matt Neal held off Anthony Reid for second. Neal's Egg Sport Vauxhall had nipped ahead of Reid's MG after the Scot had slid at the 135mph Church Corner. The Honda Civic Type-R of Andy Priaulx was fourth as his team gets to grips with its new car early in the Japanese manufacturer's return as a works team.

Muller led the feature race almost throughout – relinquishing the top spot only during the compulsory pit-stop period. With worries over the longevity of tyres in this longer race on the notoriously abrasive Hampshire track, a ceasefire was called in the fight between the two team-mates and Thompson held station close behind Muller over the closing laps.