Advantage Thompson as Plato wins race one
James Thompson now holds a bigger advantage over Yvan Muller than at any point during the season after a second-place finish in the first race at Donington Park. Jason Plato took his seventh win of the season, guaranteeing his status as the driver with most race wins over the course of the year.
Thompson’s VX Racing team-mate and championship rival Yvan Muller could only finish despite running second in the early stages of the race. Polesitter Plato was slow away from the grid and it was Matt Neal who took the lead through the Craner Curves for the first time. However Thompson pushed Neal wide and the Computeach Racing with Halfords driver dropped back to the lower end of the top ten. Thompson led from the recovering Plato and Muller in third.
Second time around, Plato poached the lead away from Thompson before the Vauxhall driver ran side-by-side with his French team-mate through Redgate and the Craner Curves. Perhaps inevitably there was contact between the pair.
“Unfortunately I oversteered into Yvan on the second lap”, said Thompson. “There was a bit of contact. It puts an interesting perspective on the championship now though, with one of us at the front of the grid and one further back for the next race. I’ll take a thirteen-point lead at this stage in the season though!”
Thompson fought hard with Colin Turkington throughout the race, exchanging positions on numerous occasions, but the MG driver eventually settled for third in the closing stages of the race.
Yvan Muller dropped to 14th position after coming together with his team-mate and then had a fight on his hands to move through the pack in an attempt to secure as many points as possible, as well as a good grid spot for race two. He moved past Rob Huff up to 13th fairly quickly, and Stefan Hodgetts was forced into the pits after his Alfa Romeo lost a door, promoting the Frenchman a further place. He was then closing on South African driver Shaun Watson-Smith, but only at around 3-tenths a lap.
The top-ten was looking a long way away for Muller at the halfway point in the race, but fortunately for him, Matt Neal slowed along the straight before retiring, and Muller successfully managed to find a way past Watson-Smith, finding himself in tenth on lap 12. He gained three further places before the end of the race to finish in seventh position.
Plato continued at the front to take the win unchallenged, as Thompson followed him home five seconds later. Turkington was third, Michael Bentwood finished fourth with Anthony Reid fifth. Thompson heads Muller by 13 points in the championship with a maximum of 34 points still to play for in the final two races.