Vauxhall clinched three championship titles at the final race weekend in the 2004 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on Sunday. The factory supported VX Racing team wrapped up the team, manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. This record success was sealed in a final race showdown between VX Racing’s Yvan Muller, 2003 champion, and team mate James Thompson. Muller won the final race but was pipped to the drivers’ championship title by a single point earned by Thompson for the fastest lap of the race.
Winning the titles in the UK’s premier motor racing series, for the fourth consecutive year has elevated the Vauxhall Astra Coupe into the record books – it is the most successful car in the history of the British Touring Car Championship.
The 2.0 litre Vauxhall Astra Coupes have dominated the touring car scene from the introduction of the model in 2001, and this year finished ahead of their closest rivals, Honda and SEAT. Strong performances from all three drivers secured the team title for VX Racing.
Kevin Wale, managing director of Vauxhall Motors, said; “To win the team, manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles again is a fantastic achievement. The BTCC has been very competitive this season and has produced the kind of wheel-to-wheel racing and excitement that the fans love. Our aim at Vauxhall is to produce winning cars, and the record breaking VX Racing Astra Coupes are testimony to the dedication of our people and the merit of our products.”
The BTCC races all around the country at the UK’s premier circuits, and after ten events and 30 races Vauxhall finished 184 points ahead of closest rival Honda in the manufacturers’ championship and 176 points ahead of SEAT Sport UK in the race for the team title. But it was the fight for the drivers’ championship between VX Racing’s Thompson and Muller that produced plenty of drama for the crowds at Donington Park as it went down to the final race weekend and the final race of the year.
The drivers were closely matched all season, with no more than a few points difference at any time, and going into the final race with just six points between them, the scene was set for a final race showdown. With nothing to separate the leading pair, it was ultimately the extra point for the 'fastest lap of the race' that won the drivers’ championship title for Thompson, relegating Muller to runner-up, even though he won the final round. Thompson’s points tally for the season was 274, while Muller totalled a very close 273. VX Racing’s young gun, Luke Hines, completed his first year with the team in tenth position in the drivers’ championships, earning Vauxhall valuable points in the team and manufacturers’ championships.