VX Racing celebrated at Snetterton yesterday, with a win apiece for James Thompson and Luke Hines the highlight of the day for the multiple championship winning team. A second place finish for Yvan Muller was not enough to keep him in the lead of the driver's championship, as Thompson added to his points tally with third place in the final race. A title showdown is set for the final race weekend in three weeks time with Thompson edging ahead of his team mate by four points as the VX Racing head to Donington.
James Thompson, after smashing the Snetterton BTCC lap record and taking pole for the first race yesterday, continued his Snetterton race weekend charge in the first of the three races today, leading from flag to flag and, in the process, re-taking the drivers championship lead. Thompson also re-captured the winning form for VX Racing, with the team not having recorded a race win since Mondello Park, three months ago. Yvan Muller struggled with his Vauxhall Astra Coupe and after starting third, finished fifth. Luke Hines, starting eighth, drove a tactical race sitting in ninth spot for fifteen laps, before perfectly timing a slow last lap to take tenth on the finish line, setting himself up for a pole position start for the second race of the day.
"Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic!" said Thompson after his victory. "It may have looked easy but it was quite tough because the track changes from lap to lap – with oil and also the dust. ..I am absolutely made up with that, it's just what we needed, and Yvan finishing down the order is fantastic for me".
Luke Hines celebrated his second win of the year in the second race, leading from the start and bringing his VX Racing Vauxhall Astra Coupe across the line in first place after a strong race. Muller, with ballast added for his third place finish in race one, was only able to finish fourth after spending much of his race defending his place from rival Colin Turkington. James Thompson, after a solid win in the first race, had to settle for seventh with the additional 66kg of weight he was forced to carry limiting his chances of a podium finish, but keeping him ahead of team mate, Muller, in the drivers championship, with five points separating the title rivals – for a couple of hours.
Hines exclaimed after the second race, "I got it! We planned to be tenth in the first race and we were, and we wanted to win the second race and we did, now we've got to do it again in the third race. I was a bit nervous at the start, as I knew I need to get off the line cleanly, but I did. I was in the lead for every lap of the race and that's a great buzz. The last three laps were very intense, but I did it."
A second place finish for Yvan Muller and third place for James Thompson in the final race of the Snetterton BTCC race weekend ensured that Thompson kept the lead in the driver's championship which he took from Muller after the first race. As the VX Racing team heads for the final rounds of the championship at Donington in three weeks time, only four points separate Thompson and Muller at the top of the table. Hines raced with a maximum 42 kgs of success ballast and struggled to stay ahead of the lighter cars, but an eighth place finish added to Hines' points tally and added valuable manufacturer points for Vauxhall.
It was mixed emotions for Muller, as he concluded, "I finally found a good set-up and was able to have a competitive race, but it was too late for me and now I'm behind James, which isn't good. There's nothing I can do about it now, I must just take each race at a time."
VX Racing heads to Donington Park for the final race weekend aiming to secure the manufacturer, team and driver championship titles. The Green Flag MSA BTCC final three rounds of racing will take place from 25-26 September. Mike Nicholson, VX Racing Operations Manager, looks forward to the finale saying, "We just need to make sure we have three good races to secure the titles, but it's been a hard fight every weekend, so we can't be complacent. We're looking forward to it."