Alan Menu moved 10 points clear of his nearest rival with a near perfect display of aggression and caution in a wet feature race at Snetterton.

Fifteen cars made their way out of pitlane for the first of two pace laps before the start of the Snetterton Feature Race with Vincent Radermecker being the unlucky absentee.

Vauxhall became the first team to use their option on swapping team cars during a race meeting after Radermecker and Yvan Muller both crashed their Vectra's in the sprint race. Muller's car was irreparable and thus Radermecker was forced to hand his machine over to his team leader.

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At the end of the first pace lap, fifteen cars returned to the pitlane to change tyres as a sudden rain shower had made the track decidedly wet. This delay meant that the projected start time of midnight was not going to be achieved and a further delay when the starting lights failed meant that the race had to be shortened to 20 laps to comply with the Norfolk circuit's 1 am curfew.

Championship leader Alain Menu took up his original second place on the grid alongside his Ford team-mate Rickard Rydell after the team successfully appealed against his qualifying time being disallowed.

Away from the start, Rydell got far too much wheelspin and was quickly enveloped by Menu, Jason Plato and Anthony Reid. Menu was the only driver who could see clearly through the combination of rain and black skies. By the end of the first lap the Swiss Mondeo driver had opened up a one second advantage over Plato who was similarly moving clear of Reid. Rydell had now gathered his thoughts and was fourth while Yvan Muller had settled himself into his team-mates machine quickly and was in hot pursuit. Behind him came James Thompson and Matt Neal who had forced his way past sprint race runner up Tom Kristensen and Gabriele Tarquini.

Menu easily opened up a comfortable advantage over Plato who was struggling for a clear view behind the Ford. With pitstops still compulsory despite the reduction in race length, Plato knew that if he stayed in touch with the Ford he would get a second crack at the leader after the pitstops.

Muller was the first to pit, followed by Rydell and Reid who both pitted on lap four. The Swedish driver gained enough ground on his team-mate in the pits that when they returned to the racetrack it was Rydell who led the Scotsman.

Menu, Plato and Thompson, who had now risen to third, plugged on, all three happy with their cars if a little frustrated by the reduction in race length. Plato came in first on lap six although his Vauxhall crew were somewhat sloppy by their standards, costing Jason valuable time.

Menu came in on lap seven for a trouble-free stop which promoted Thompson and Neal into the top two places. The Ford driver returned to the race a fraction more than four seconds ahead of Plato and proceeded to pull away over the next four laps.

Thompson meanwhile was also pushing and now had the advantage of a clear view, the Honda driver lapping faster than anyone else on the circuit before he made his stop on lap eleven. The Redstone Honda team did a superb job on the Accord and when Thompson returned to the track he was a mere several car lengths behind Plato.

Neal led for two laps but was being caught by Menu all the time, the Nissan not reacting well in the wet conditions with the extra ballast it was given after Reid's Croft disqualification. When Matt finally made his stop on lap 13 he found himself back in seventh place battling with Gabriele Tarquini. They would have been joined by Kristensen had the Dane not retired after three laps as a result of some wheel banging action with Neal and his team-mate.

Up at the front Menu had extended his lead to six seconds over Plato with only six laps to go. Thompson was not a threat in third place and was similarly untroubled by the new fourth placed man Muller. Rydell and Reid had paid the price for their early pitstops and were running nose to tail in fifth and sixth while Neal and Tarquini were embroiled in a similar struggle for seventh.

With the bit firmly between his teeth Plato set about reducing the deficit to the leader and within two laps the gap had been cut to three seconds. Now the chase was really on. Menu didn't want to push too hard in the tricky conditions but did not want to give up his hard won race lead. Plato was closing relentlessly, physically wringing every last ounce out of the Vectra as he made his bid for his first double success of the year. Into the last two laps they went with Plato gaining more than half a second a lap, the gap was almost exactly one second as the duellists entered the final 1.95 miles of the race. Down the Revett straight and Plato moved off line slightly just to remind the Swiss driver that he was still there but Alain remained unflurried. Into the Russell chicane for the final time and Plato had one last despairing look as he attempted to get the Ford driver to move off line on the run to the flag but Menu would not be moved and crossed the line with four tenths of a second to spare.

"The car was very good and I pulled away," said the victorious driver who now moves ten points ahead of Rydell in the championship. "After the pit-stop the balance of the car changed a bit and it was not quite as good. But I knew how much Jason was catching me each lap and it was fairly easy to control the pace."

Plato was not too disappointed with second place as it capped one of his best meetings of the year so far. "I'm very pleased with the weekend, not just for me but for the team as everyone worked flat out to get the cars ready. It was a shame that the race didn't go on for a few more laps as the result might have been different," he said of his possible double. Even with his bumper points haul, Muller's fourth place in the feature was just enough to keep him ahead of the Englishman in the championship.

Behind a delighted Thompson who drove flat out for third, Muller, Rydell and Reid maintained their formation to the end of the race. The only other change in position amongst the Super Touring machines came when Tarquini successfully boxed Neal in behind a slower Class B car and despite Neal's best efforts at moving back out into some clear air, Tarquini held firm to take seventh place.

Class B provided a welcome surprise for Robert Collard and the Bintcliffe Sport team for after qualifying second in class behind Alan Morrison, the Nissan Primera driver took the Peugeot into Sears on the opening lap and never looked back, taking his and the teams first BTCC win. Morrison eventually trailed home last after his windscreen wipers broke on the opening lap, causing some very scary moments throughout the race. Somehow Morrison was able to lap on nearly the same pace as his class rivals despite the fact that he was driving virtually blind.

The two Barwell Honda's finished a respectful distance behind the ever improving Collard with James Kaye heading home Mark Lemmer. Despite Morrison's failure Kaye still trails the Peugeot by 16 points with just eight races in the series to go.