The Snetterton night race pulled in a bumper crowd of 16,500 spectators for Rounds 15 and 16 of the British Touring Car Championship this weekend.

BTC Touring driver Jason Plato claimed double pole in the afternoon qualifying session ahead of Team Egg Sport's Phil Bennett in the Sprint Race and team-mate Yvan Muller in the Feature Race. In the BTC Production Class, Simon Harrison followed in Plato's footsteps to place his HTML prepared Peugeot 306 firmly on pole. Team Kaliber Sport's Simon Graves qualified his Honda Accord in second place ahead of Gavin Pyper in GA Janspeed's Alfa Romeo 156.

Sprint Race:

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Rainy conditions graced the grid for the start of the 17 Lap Sprint Race but this did not deter the drivers from putting their cars to the test at the Norfolk track. The early evening race produced the closest finish seen this year as a mere 92 thousandths of a second separated first place BTC Production driver Simon Graves from BTC Touring driver Yvan Muller.

Graves executed a storming start, which put him ahead of HTML's Simon Harrison. He went on to dominate the Production Class for the remainder of the race. The highlight of the evening came on the last few laps. Muller had worked his way up through the Production pack and only had Graves to overtake to claim outright victory. The Frenchman, however, was eluded a win as Graves beat him through the Russell Chicane and forced Muller into second as they raced to the line.

The Team Kaliber Sport driver was delighted with his victory, despite having to adjust himself to the driving conditions and feel his way for the first few laps of the race.

Graves commented: ''The win was absolutely fantastic. It was wonderful especially with the tricky conditions as it was very slippy, and it was touch and go for a while, but I managed to get into a rhythm and made a little bit of a break which made life easier for myself. To end it with a perfect grandstand finish was stunning.''

GR Motorsport's Gareth Howell finished in second place in his Ford Focus. He said: ''I'm really pleased but I was more worried about Rob Collard behind me than Graves in front of me. I tried so many things to get grip and it was a bit of a lottery call out there. I was just relieved when nothing went wrong and we were able to get on the podium.''

In the BTC Touring Class, and despite only being able to claim second place overall, Muller once again thrilled the crowds with his outstanding car control as he found a new sparring partner for the evening in the form of James Thompson. Both drivers made a strong start, going into the first corner side-by-side and forcing pole man Plato into third place. Thompson then ran a little wide down the straight giving Muller the opportunity to pass. Muller and Thompson pulled away from Plato who appeared to be suffering from lack of grip in his works Vauxhall Astra, having struggled to find the perfect set-up in the driving conditions. Plato reclaimed second position from Thompson on Lap 10 after the Team Egg Sport driver struggled through Production category traffic.

This finish put both the Vauxhall Motorsport drivers on level pegging in the Drivers Championship with a total of 192 points apiece. A dramatic stage was set for the Feature Race ahead.

A new face to the podium was third placed Production driver Robert Collard who having nearly made it to the rostrum on several occasions this year, finally took home the silverware for a third place finish in his Renault Clio. The weather conditions suited his driving style and the Clio handled admirably in the greasy conditions. Had he not lost time in traffic, he may well have made it onto the second step of the podium.

Collard commented: ''It has taken a while to get here this season so I am absolutely delighted for myself and the team, as we have suffered more than our fair share of bad luck with one thing and another. Hopefully this is the start for more podium finishes. It feels brill!.''

The Feature Race:

The 34 Lap Feature Race produced fantastic racing with all four Vauxhall Astra Coupe drivers leading the round at some point. Plato retained his pole position lead and held off the rest of the field throughout the first Lap. It was Team Egg Sport's Phil Bennett who looked most on the pace and was quick to apply the pressure on Muller. The wet conditions produced a slippery track and overtaking manoeuvres proved tricky. Muller soon caught Plato and Bennett was also in tow, making it a three way battle for the lead.

In the Production Class, HTML's Simon Harrison got away first but his lead was short lived as Gavin Pyper nudged ahead on Lap 2. Lap 3 witnessed another change - this time with Team Kaliber Sport's Simon Graves taking the lead at the hairpin from Pyper. There was very little in it with only five thousandths of a second separating the Lap times of Pyper and Graves. Pyper again staked his claim on Lap 7 and took Graves through Russell Bend. GR Motorsport's Gareth Howell was lurking ominously behind the pair and reeled in Graves on Lap 8 - the pair going side by side through Coram.

Weather conditions began to change and the track was drying out. Teams were late into the pits as they all played the waiting game but the unanimous decision for teams seemed to be to change all four tyres onto slicks.

The Peugeot of Dan Eaves was first in but a problem with the right rear produced a disappointing 25 second stop for the team. The leading Touring cars of Plato, Muller and Bennett were separated by a mere 0.9 seconds. Bennett waited patiently before eventually making a move on Muller on Lap 10 at the Esses. He went through to take second but seemed to gain further momentum, which carried him up alongside Plato. Bennett went into the lead on the start finish straight before the two cars made contact at Riches - Bennett was off and the resulting damage to his Vauxhall Astra forced him into the pits. He later rejoined the race but was never able to mount a second challenge for the lead.

The race was far from over and both Plato and Muller completed quick pit stops. Muller seemed to develop handling problems with the car, giving Plato a slight advantage for a couple of laps but the Frenchman was back on the pace two laps later and further contact was made between the team-mates when they both braked incredibly late going into the Esses. Muller gained the advantage and emerged as the race leader.

It was the Team Egg Sport Astra of James Thompson that was on a charge as he set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 21. The Yorkshire man was originally well off the pace but was fighting his way back up the field from fourth into second. One lap later, he launched an attack for the lead by taking the inside line at the Esses which gave him the advantage over the Frenchman.

Further down the field, the Peugeot 406 of Dan Eaves ran wide at the now extremely slippery Corum and hit the tyre wall with sufficient impact to put the car out of the race. Eaves thankfully emerged from the incident unscathed but it was evidence that track conditions were becoming increasingly challenging.

Muller was the next to slide at Corum a few laps later, narrowly missing the retired Peugeot of Eaves. The race was red flagged on Lap 28 after officials decided that Eaves' car was in too dangerous a position. The chequered flag was waved with the Team Egg Sport Astra of Thompson emerging as the race victor.

He commented: ''The race was outrageous actually. For the first 10 Laps I was about 11 seconds behind and I thought I was going to just limp home in fourth position and then I saw a hint of a dry line so I thought lets be brave and get on the slicks as I wasn't doing anything on the wets. I was quite glad the race was cut short to be honest as Jason (Plato) was catching me. It's a great result for me and the team.''

In the Production race, contact between Mat Jackson and Simon Harrison pushed the HTML Peugeot into fourth position but it was Jackson's team-mate Gareth Howell who drove an impressive race in difficult conditions to claim his first win of the championship. Howell's achievement means there are now eight different winners in the BTC Production class this season.

A delighted Howell said afterwards: ''It was a tremendous race and a lot more interesting than the first. For 10-15 laps it was good dicing with Simon (Graves) and with Gavin (Pyper) for a while. Simon made a little mistake and drifted wide and we both had real problems with the wets. I didn't expect to be able to pull away but I did. I overshot the Esses at one point and ran wide but luckily the gap was big enough already. I was really pleased to see the chequered flag.''

Jason Plato has increased his lead in the driver's championship to 207 points, with team-mate Muller close behind with 203 points. HTML's Simon Harrison goes ahead in the Production category, leading the championship by eight points from Team Kaliber Sport's James Kaye.