The second Brands Hatch BTCC event of the year saw VX Racing take two podium places and, with all three drivers racing hard in each of the three races, the team extended its lead in the manufacturers and team championships. As the team leave, the driver's championship remains as close as ever, with Muller and Thompson sitting in first and second places, and just three points separating the two. The third race of the day proved how tight the fight for the championship is, as the duo duelled hard.
Mike Nicholson, Motorsport Operations Manager, commented after the final race, "We had three hard-fought races today and all three drivers raced at the limit every lap, so they deserved the podiums and points which are so valuable to us, as we move into the closing stages of the championship. I thought we were on for a podium in the third race, but the 'race in a lap' at the end didn't fall in our favour. Although there's tough opposition from rival teams this season, Yvan and James are also in their own title fight, and they certainly showed that there's no team orders, although sometimes they fight so hard on track, it's frightening!"
Yvan Muller started race day with a second place finish, followed this with an eighth place and finished off with a fifth, although Muller had ran in third for most of the final race and was expected to finish in this podium spot. It was a late appearance by the safety car which resulted in the field restarting for the final lap and an opportunity too good to miss for Muller. He took his chance to score more points as the pack raced through Paddock Hill bend and up to Druids, taking first Neal and then Plato, but out braking himself in his charge and then getting caught up with the pursuing pack, Muller was pushed down to fifth and as Muller said after the race, "I was very lucky to be fifth - my ice racing experience helped a lot as I slid through a couple of corners."
James Thompson struggled with the performance of his car today, but still managed to finish third in the first race, fourth in the second and twelfth in the third. Arriving at Brands one point behind Muller in the championship, Thompson leaves four points behind him, but with two events still to go this year, the driver championship title is still within his grasp. Thompson was disappointed with his weekend, explaining, "I was punted off left, right and centre, I had engine problems, an oil leak, and Yvan trying to get past me (in the last race) didn't help. All in all, not the best weekend for me."
Luke Hines enjoyed a strong, steady weekend of points-paying results, with a fifth place in the first race, tenth in the second and seventh in the final race of the day, despite being caught up in many of the incidents and much of the wheel-to-wheel, bumper-to-bumper race action. Hines said of his day, "It was quite an adventure, it's been pretty hectic out there. There's quite a few bumpers being used, and you really have to fight your corner. I give back as good as I get - it's the only way to survive. I'm pleased with my results today and pleased to have got more points."
VX Racing lead the way in the manufacturers and team championship title hunts, with Muller leading the drivers championship and Thompson a close second, just three points behind him. Hines lies behind the lead duo in ninth place.Published 23 August 2004