Rounds 19 and 20 of the BTC Championship delivered the catalogue of thrills, spills and excitement that has now become synonymous with the series – culminating in Steve Soper's Peugeot suffering engine failure whilst he was almost within sight of the flag.
Yvan Muller increased his lead in the BTC Touring Drivers Championship by claiming his ninth win of the year in Round 19. Muller made a fantastic start to get ahead of pole-sitter Andy Priaulx by Old Hall. The Peugeot 406 of Steve Soper also had a good start to move from fifth to third position, ahead of Jason Plato.
Soper exuded experience and thrilled the crowds with a brilliant display of defensive driving and in doing so managed to hold both Plato and James Thompson at bay for four laps. Plato eventually made a move on Lap 5 which saw the Peugeot beaten, but it was clear that the VLR prepared 406 Coupe had broken new boundaries and undoubtedly had its strongest race of the season.
“Peugeot has made some great progress with the engine, it was a rocket ship off the line and I couldn't do anything about it really,” admitted Plato. “It was good to see that the Peugeots were up there today. Steve has a good set up on the car and it was the strongest I've seen them. There's not a lot in it now and that has to be good for the championship.”
Team Egg Sport's Andy Priaulx was the talk of the paddock. The Towcester based driver, who stood in for Phil Bennett for Rounds 19 and 20, proved his ability to fans and teams alike by qualifying on pole for both the Sprint and Feature races after getting in the Astra for the first time on Saturday.
Priaulx made a bad start however – a mistake which cost him the race as he let Muller through, but fought back to pressurise the Frenchman.
Muller explained: “I knew that after the start 30% of the job was done but I also knew I had a fight on my hands as Andy was quick and wasn't carrying any weight. I had to be very, very focussed to win and I think it was probably my best win of the season.”
Priaulx then gave his version of events: “The wheels spun a lot more than I thought at the start but I've only ever started this car once before so it was a learning process. I hadn't driven the car on cold tyres before either so I'm really pleased with the result.
“My objective this weekend was to come into the team and do a professional job and I think I've done that,” said the ex-Silverstone instructor. “Yvan drove a great race and I wasn't quite close enough to him to make a move but at least I brought the car home in one piece.”