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Round 15: Thompson eases to race three victory
16 July 2006
James Thompson made it two wins from three for the SEAT team with victory in the third and final Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Croft.
Thompson, who had earlier sacrificed a certain win in race one to aid team-mate Jason Plato in his quest to claim the drivers' title, started second on the grid thanks to the reverse grid rules and made light work of getting past Gavin Smith to lead the race and was never challenged as he secured the victory to extend SEAT's lead in the manufacturers' standings.
Smith would somehow manage to maintain second place in the early stages of the race, which allowed Thompson to build a comfortable lead, but a high-speed slide at Barcroft would remove him from contention, allowing Gordon Shedden – who was again putting in a storming drive – to move into second having earlier benefited from contact between Smith and Colin Turkington to slide past the MG. However the Team Halfords man would suffer more bad luck when a puncture saw him go off at Tower, the resultant slow drive back to the pits and tyre change leaving him to drop down to finish 17th.
It left Plato and Neal squabbling for the final podium place behind Thompson and Shedden, with Plato looking set to make it three podium finishes for the weekend until Neal launched a move down the inside at the final turn on the last lap. Running over the kerbs, Neal emerged on the inside with the two then facing a dash to the line – Neal emerging ahead by just 0.008secs.
However stewards would later decide that Neal has 'gained an unfair advantage' by putting all four wheels off the circuit during the move and reversed the positions - putting Plato back into third and leaving the championship leader fourth.
A fine drive from Fabrizio Giovanardi saw him come from the very back of the field to claim fifth ahead of VX Racing team-mate Tom Chilton, with Mike Jordan seventh in the Eurotech Honda after dialling out problems that had affected the car all day and Smith rounding out the top eight.
Ninth place saw more points added to James Kayes' total after a solid drive once again from the Synchro Motorsport man while Rob Collard claimed the final place in the top ten.
An encouraging debut for Team Quest driver Eoin Murray saw him once again take the flag, this time in twelfth place, while Erkut Kizilirmak secured his second finish of the weekend in 15th.
Next up Donington Park in two weeks time.
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