Vauxhall Motorsport's Yvan Muller took an historic double win in front of record crowds at Sunday's British Touring Car Championship races at Mondello Park, Ireland - the first ever BTCC races to take place outside the UK.

Following his double pole in Saturday's qualifying session, the Frenchman has taken maximum points away from the weekend witnessed by more than 15,000 spectators.

Muller also continues to lead the overall championship standings 27 points ahead of teammate Jason Plato. Egg Sport Astra Coupe driver, James Thompson lies in overall third place with 111 points, only five behind Plato.

Muller led the touring cars in Mondello's 15-lap Sprint race from pole position in a lights to flag victory, catching the production class cars on lap five and deposing James Kaye (Honda) from the overall race lead in lap 13.

Plato followed Muller closely all race until a flat front tyre caused an unscheduled pit-stop for fresh tyres, and dropped him down to last place amongst the touring car runners.

The 30-lap Feature Race produced a thrilling start with Vauxhall Motorsport's Muller beating Plato to the first corner ahead of the Egg Sport Astra Coupes. Shortly after, Bennett fell victim to the Lexus of Kurt Luby, which had punted him off in the opening lap.

Thompson meanwhile took advantage of the subsequent tussle between Bennett and Peugeot's Dan Eaves, taking third place. Muller began pulling away from the field increasing his lead lap by lap ahead of second placed Plato.

Pit stops began on lap 10 with James Thompson, the first of the Astra Coupes, coming in early at the end of lap 11. Vauxhall Motorsport's Muller pitted on lap 12, handing Plato a temporary lead for two laps before the Oxford-based driver pitted at the end of 14.

Plato rejoined just as Thompson passed the pitlane exit and won the out-braking battle at the next corner. Plato trailed, waiting for his tyres to heat before successfully making his move on Thompson, leaving Muller with enough of a lead to cruise to the
chequered flag. Phil Bennett brought his battle-scarred Astra Coupe home fourth.

''It's great to win the first ever BTCC race to be held in Ireland," said a delighted Muller. "I felt I controlled the gap back to Jason (Plato, in the Sprint race) and when I heard over the radio that he had a problem, I just eased off to take less risks, especially over the kerbs to avoid punctures.

"I beat Jason to the first corner in the Feature and had to push very hard for the first 20 laps," Muller continued. "The Astra felt better in this race than in the Sprint and that surprised me and helped me build enough of a lead to drive carefully for the last 10 laps.

"I was taking no risks at all and I think that allowed Jason to catch up with me towards the end. The brakes worked well here, but I'm a bit concerned about how they will be at the next race at Donington with all of this extra weight on the Astra Coupes,'' warned Muller, referring to the 'success ballast' being continually added to the Vauxhall's.

A disappointed Plato commented: "It's not a good beginning of the season for me - I've had my fair share of bad luck, things have got to change for me in the future.''


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment