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Feature Race and End of Season Driver Quotes

James Thompson: Wow. What can I say?! The first race was the key one really and I knew I had to finish that one and get a good cushion and that would put the pressure on Yvan. The start of the Sprint Race was like the good old days. Yvan was trading paint with people and was obviously desperate to get forward and he knew he needed to win the race. My tactics were to follow him all the way. I was almost last at one point and I knew I had to pull my finger out. I got shuffled out and I wanted to let Yvan through at the start and then just shadow him and follow him to the end of the race but we were second to last at one stage. When I heard Yvan had broken down I was almost emotional for a minute but I had the rest of the race to take it in! I was smiling like a Cheshire cat for a couple of laps but then tried to concentrate on winning the race.

I canít put it into words. Iíve been here for so many years. Itís the pinnacle of whatever you do. Iíd love to come back and defend my title but Iím not under contract at the moment so weíll have to wait and see what happens. Iím very happy where I am and Vauxhall is the happiest working environment Iíve been in. Yvan and I, weíve had a good year and although itís been tense the last few races I think as far as team mates go Yvan, Matt and I, are a very strong trio. And if youíre going to win Championships again then thatís what we need. Thereís no point in having one good driver and a couple of guys who are number two and three. Paulís come on a lot this year as well. I said towards the end of the Feature race on the radio, ďPaul fancies a go, Iíll move over and let him past,Ē but then I think he was showing off to the crowd! I got back on the radio and said, ďIíll give you ten out of ten for trying!Ē

I knew it was going to be difficult with the engine change rule this year and having four engines for the year was not going to be good. I think it needs to be looked at. Iíd be very disappointed if Iíd have lost the championship having beaten Yvan in scoring in the races but to be beaten by something that is out of my control would have been very frustrating. I can understand why the manufacturers would get penalised but not the drivers as we have no control over car failure. I think it needs looking at.

Alan Morrison: Andy and I pulled away from the field and I though there was no point me overtaking him and I decided to sit tight and it was all about pit stops and I came in early. At the start I remember looking in my mirror and seeing cars sideways and cars on the grass, cars in the back of cars! It was like bumper cars but it was the end of the season and everybody wanted to do well. But it was such an exciting race to be in and Iím sure it was a great one to watch. I was lucky to stay out of it as I had a good start and I sat behind Andy.

All these programmes take time and ours was no different but look at where we were at Brands Hatch at the start of the season to now. The car next year, if Honda decide to come back, will be one of the strongest cars in the field. All credit to James for winning the championship. Iím absolutely delighted for him. Heís driven so well all year. And credit to Honda and my crew and Arena.

Yvan Muller: The car was really good. I was pleased with the balance. I passed Matt Neal on the first chicane but he pushed me out and I lost places. I was then behind Paul (OíNeill) who was doing everything he could to keep me behind and I touched him and broke my suspension. It was bad luck but it is always difficult to fight for a title against your team mates and we fought hard all season. But once I was out of the Feature race that was it, end of season, end of story. I'm disappointed not to have had the opportunity to fight to the last lap but that is racing. We have won the Manufacturers' and Teams' titles so I have at least done my job and look forward to the future now.

Dan Eaves: I thought it would be tough to make an impact in the race, but after a winning position in the sprint race I was leading the Independents championship and only Aaron Slight in his Barwell Astra could prevent me winning. We both went out on the first lap of the feature race, so with no extra points being added I knew Iíd won the title. We came to Donington knowing it was going to be difficult to win, so I am really pleased with the result.

NEW! - Iím made up to be taking the championship back to Team Halfords. I just couldnít imagine actually winning it coming here this weekend, twelve points behind. I thought Aaron would just hold position all the way and pick up the points. That was all he had to do Ė no-one could beat him that way, as long as he finished. For him to go off in the sprint race like he did was a god-send for me. And then for Gareth Howell to go out as well, and Tim Harvey, it put me in a very strong position going in to the Feature race. Then Aaronís rear suspension packed up I think, so I could see that he was out, but then about half a lap later my engine let go. I was thankful that he was already out or I would have been a little bit nervous sat on the edge watching!

Iíve been with the team four years so Iím just made up that I can finally take a championship home to them, because I know that they have been longing for me to do that for all that time, so Iím just so proud to be part of Team Halfords. Weíve succeeded at what weíve been endeavouring to do this year by taking the Independents Championship!

Carl Breeze: This is a fantastic end to my season. After qualifying in 13th I knew it would be hard work to make my way up the field, but after a really good start and a fantastic pit stop I rejoined the race in 7th. After a good battle with Anthony Reid I was able to defend my line and bring Team Halfords home in 7th overall and 1st in the Independents cup.

NEW! - It was a really good race. At the beginning there was about eight cars going in to Goddards and there was a bit of a melee. But I managed to come out of that unscathed, and I got my head down and stayed behind Tim because I wasnít sure if he needed the points to get second in the championship. Then the team called me in for the pitstop and did a really good job and I was surprised to come out behind the works Proton of David Leslie and ahead of Anthony Reid in the MG. I reeled in Leslie and put my lights on to try and fluster him and he made a mistake down at the Melbourne hairpin. He just ran a little bit wide and I got underneath him, but unfortunately on the exit he just rubbed me a little bit on the rear corner and we went up to Goddards side by side and he had the inside line. Because I was pushed out wide, it allowed Reid to get past me as well so I decided to just sit and follow the two works guys for a bit. On the next lap going up to Coppice I got a really good run on Reid and ducked down the inside and passed him. It was great. I chased down Leslie again and then I got a call from the team just telling me to cool it down a bit. It was just a great result for Team Halfords and all the VLR guys. Itís my first year in touring cars and to win the last race of the season is going to make my winter a lot easier I think.

It was very tough at the beginning because coming in late, I missed all the pre-season testing and the TOCA test days so I was really on a steep learning curve. Since Croft really Iíve started getting on the pace of Dan and Tim and this weekend was the first time Iíve out-qualified both of them in the sprint and feature races, so that was really great for me. A great weekend to finish the season with.

Matt Neal: Once I was out of the title race, my aim this weekend was to win a race or get on the podium so I'm really delighted with my third in the Sprint, a great way to finish the year with the Egg Sport team.

Paul O'Neill: I was disappointed not to finish the first race but the boys did a great job getting my car ready for the Feature enabling me to get out there. It was hard work but I just wanted to get out and do the best I could. A great end of season for me and the Egg Sport team.

David Leslie: This was another tough race where we had to pick up places by hard work. Iím pleased with sixth place but maybe even fourth was on the cards today Ė itís that close in Touring Cars now. Weíve made a lot of progress this year from a standing start with an all-new team. Iím looking forward to a good winter of consolidating what weíve learned into a cracking car for next season.

Phil Bennett: This has been a huge learning curve this season for me. Iím pleased with the results today and believe weíre building a good platform for a strong challenge next season.

Andy Priaulx: It was obviously frustrating as the engine cut out six or seven times during the race yet in between the car was lapping well and we were really setting the pace. It's a good result for Alan, I'm just disappointed I wasn't on the podium alongside him!

Added 26/9/02

Alan Morrison: Iím just delighted for everybody involved, for Honda obviously and Arena. Theyíve done a fantastic job all year. To get the car from where we were at Brands Hatch to where we are now. It will be a different story next year.

Gavin Pyper: To get to third from the back wasnít bad. It was the added weight that stopped us winning. Weíve not really had that much practice setting the car up with extra weight this year so we do struggle quite a bit with weight because it affect our car quite a lot. I was closing in on James and Norman towards the end of the race but there just werenít enough laps. A good weekend though basically. A first and a third is a good result considering where we started both races.

It has been an excellent season. Team Dynamics have given me a fantastic car. GA Motorsports have given me the opportunity by lending them the car to race. Itís just unfortunate that we missed the first four races to be honest. I think that if we had been in it from the start we would have been fighting for the championship!

Norman Simon: It was a great race with James. I think we saved the best for last. I think we both had brake problems. It was just really really good racing. All year, the racing with James has been good and the last race was probably the top of it. It was just great.

I would have been pleased to have been first in the championship but I think we had problems at the beginning of the year. The car wasnít quick enough. We tried to do some things which didnít work out. They made us quicker but not reliable. We had quite a lot of retirements but we also had the most wins. We caught up but it was just a little bit too late. It was a little bit unlucky but in the end, thatís racing and James deserved it. It was a good year of racing between us, a pleasure. Good, really good!

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