BTCC » 25 April 2004
Brands means Hines.
Luke Hines added Brands variety today in the second race of the day at Brands Hatch in the reverse top ten grid race in the British Touring Car Championship.
Hines, who finished in ninth in the first race of the day, giving him a second place start for race two, took position from pole-sitter Rob Collard and lead for the rest of the race to lead home a formation VX Racing podium lockout with James Thompson and Yvan Muller following the youngster home.
For all but Hines it was another action-packed event. Pole-sitter Rob Collard was under attack from all-comers, with reigning champ Yvan Muller trying to get past at the outside of Druids to follow his young team-mate, but the experienced racer that Collard is, meant that everyone had to battle their way past.
Hines had made him move on the start, taking his lead from the Michael Schumacher school of starting, and come the end of the first lap he had a 0.8 second lead from the rest of the field. Hines stretched the lead to over two seconds at one point, but in the later stages of the race he dropped over a second to the sister car of James Thompson behind him. Although there apparently aren't any team-orders at VX Racing, the resultant one-two-three with their youngest driver at the head of the field can't be too bad in marketing terms. It's just a pity they no-longer make the car.
All action meanwhile had occurred behind Hines. Fastest lap of the race was set by the ever-impressing Shaun Watson-Smith, who was right with the action at every turn. First it was a battle to get past Colin Turkington, which inadvertently allowed Yvan Muller through. The South African kept with the WSR driver until Colin had a very sideways moment allowing Watson-Smith, and quite a few others, through.
Up ahead of the Proton, Muller made his was past Collard on the seventh lap, and the green and turquoise car followed through, only to find himself driving alongside Rob for a sizable portion of a lap. Collard's defence of position was soon to be struck an unlikely blow as his Astra's bonnet flew up. Undeterred, the silver Astra didn't slow that much, though visibility wasn't that great from inside the car, meaning Rob eventually returned to the pits to have the bonnet closed and taped down.
Battling all this time behind had been BTCC oldie and newbie, Anthony Reid and Rob Huff. Time and again Anthony had tried all the tricks he knew, and time and again Huff had showed that the hustle and bustle of the SEAT Cupra Cup is a good proving ground for the BTCC.
Eventually Reid was through, and took his attack to the hard-charging Watson-Smith. Paddock Hill bend is always good for action, and last year it was a sideways Yvan Muller and Warren Hughes that gave all the photographers cause to make use of the motordrive; this time it was South African sideways action through the gravel, the Proton helped to his photo-opportunity by the ever forceful Reidy.
“I got pushed off a couple of times during the race,” said Shaun. “Then the next thing I know I'm going sideways through the gravel at Paddock Hill bend.” Facing a gearbox change before the last race of the day, the Proton with this particular peddler continues to impress.
Behind the Vauxhall trio on the finish line was a brace of WSR MGs, then the race one winner Tom Chilton.
Missing all this action was Matt Neal, who had problems with propulsion, but hopes to make the final race.
1. Luke Hines
2. James Thompson
3. Yvan Muller
4. Anthony Reid
5. Colin Turkington
6. Tom Chilton
7. James Kaye
8. Dan Eaves
9. Justin Keen
10. Paul Wallace
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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