21 April 2002
Muller takes first win of 2002.
Title favourite Yvan Muller scored his first BTCC win of the season in today's Sprint Race at Oulton Park. Muller led MG's Warren Hughes over the line, with Vauxhall Motorsport team-mate right on the rear bumper of Hughes' car.
Matt Neal was on pole and duly led the field into the first corner. The Safety Car came out at the end of that lap after John B&Q went off at Foulstons, with Neal leading from Muller, Anthony Reid, Hughes, Tim Harvey and James Thompson.
As the Safety Car went in the news came through that Neal's start had been judged to be from the wrong position on the track – the Astra being called in for a drive-through penalty. This put Muller clear at the front, with Hughes behind having passed team-mate Reid.
The Frenchman looked in no danger of losing the race, even near the end when Hughes closed as Thompson, who had worked his way through the pack, was right with the Geordie's MG. They crossed the line in that order virtually nose to tail.
Neal recovered to take fourth, passing Reid through Cascades, and in sixth was Aaron Slight, the Barwell Astra driver claiming first Independent home and his best ever BTCC finish. Behind a cracking battle between Andy Priaulx's Honda and the Proton of David Leslie went th way of Priaulx.
A star of the first half of the race was Team Atomic Kitten's Colin Turkington. On his BTCC debut, the 20-year-old Ulsterman was battling Tim Harvey for sixth place. The MG was visibly quicker in some parts of the circuits but the experienced Harvey making sure he never left a gap to allow an overtaking opportunity. Finally Turkington saw an opportunity and tried to outbrake Harvey into Knickerbrook. The MG nosed ahead, but the two cars touched and it was Turkington who spun out. Turkington rejoined, while Harvey later retired.
Gareth Howell made it three MGs in the top ten with ninth from the back of the Touring Class grid, while Alan Morrison brought the second Honda Civic Type-R home tenth.
James Kaye gave the Production Class Civic its first win, ahead of Mark Fullalove.
Sprint Race, 19 Laps:
1 Yvan Muller F Vauxhall Motorsport Astra 31min13.725secs
2 Warren Hughes GB MG Sport and Racing ZS EX260 - 0.856secs
3 James Thompson GB Vauxhall Motorsport Astra -1.347secs
4 Matt Neal GB Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra -5.466secs
5 Anthony Reid GB MG Sport and Racing ZS EX260 -10.994secs
6 Aaron Slight NZ Barwell Motorsport Vauxhall Astra -19.415secs
7 Andy Priaulx GB Honda Racing Civic Type-R -21.423secs
8 David Leslie GB TSP Proton Impian -21.451secs
9 Gareth Howell GB Team Atomic Kitten MG ZS EX259 -24.823secs
10 Alan Morrison GB Honda Racing Civic Type-R - 28.448secs
12 James Kaye GB Synchro Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R -1min14.065secs
Matt Neal GB Egg Sport Astra 1min27.595secs 97.07mph
James Kaye GB Synchro Morosport Honda Civic Type-R 1min33.060secs 91.37mph
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