by Andy Stobart

After another action-packed British Touring Car Championship race at Silverstone, Tom Chilton took his first race win to become the youngest winner ever in the series. But the real drama took place between some of the far more experienced campaigners in the series.

The race was over before it had even begun for reigning champ Yvan Muller, who must have applied the oil slick button in his Astra once too many times on the formation lap, and dressed oil from Copse to Becketts and the departure of the Frenchman from the grid was the result.

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A slight delay whilst this happened and plenty of time for James Thompson to consider his start from a lonely front row. Come race start Thompson made the most of things and stormed off in his VX Racing Coupe, though with maximum success ballast from his race two win there wasn't much chance of him disappearing off into the distance.

Sure enough, Anthony Reid was soon charging through the dusty oil dressing to close in on Thomo. Reid - in what was muted as potentially being his last race of the season before the start of the weekend for one set of reasons; and was being muted as being his last race in the series for an entirely different set of reasons come the end of the day - was a man on a charge and out to prove something.

Behind the Scotsman team-mate Colin Turkington was off to a solid start before being taken by the ever robust Rob Huff. Come the end of the first lap the field lined up Thompson, Reid, Huff, Turkington, Neal, Plato, Chilton, Breeze, Eaves, Burt and there were quite a few battles shaping up.

Carl Breeze in the strong-at-Silverstone was having a sniff at the rear of Tom Chilton's Arena Honda, a car that thus far had not been as rapid as its form at Brands Hatch may have suggested. Things were soon to change for young Mr. Chilton however.

Further towards the front, in another Civic, was race one winner Matt Neal. Neal was setting about the MG of Colin Turkington ahead, and with the younger of the MG pilots suffering from power steering failure and having to wrestle the car round the tighter corners, Neal was soon through, and Jason Plato too was having a sniff at the action.

Showing intent in second in the other MG, Anthony Reid placed fastest lap on lap six in his charge to hunt down Thompson and, sure enough, the Scotsman was soon with the VX Racing man.

Wasting no time with formalities, Reid set about the task of passing the 2002 champion, with increasingly robust moves. First he was past, then he ran wide and allowed Thompson back. Then they were side-by-side with Rob Huff, always eager for some action, joining the fray.

Deciding that the dicing shouldn't last any longer, Reid then dispatched Thompson in a move that was to cause controversy and the black MG disappeared off into the distance, leaving the scene of the crime.

Thompson then found himself under attack and falling back through the field with his maximum ballast car, to ultimately finish in seventh place.

Come race end Thompson voiced his displeasure with Reid's actions on track, and suggested an interesting alternate career for the Scotsman. "The bloke just turned me around and then I just got hit by everybody else," said an irate Thompson. "He's a clown - he should be juggling balls in the circus."

Reid made good his escape on the track, but there were moves afoot to ensure that it wouldn't be the last action the WSR pilot would see on this particular day. As the cars crossed the line at the end of the fifth lap there had been quite a shake-up of the line-up. Reid had a 1.3 second lead from Rob Huff's SEAT, with Matt Neal now in third and Tom Chilton fourth. Both Hondas were looking very strong...

Neal soon took Huff, seemingly without too much issue and the SEAT man was unable to respond as he had the attentions of Tom Chilton to consider. Chilton's insistence to get past meant the Toledo took the matt black Civic on to the grass, but the 19-year-old was soon past.

Reid was, at this stage, leaving all of this behind him as he posted the races fastest lap on the sixth lap, giving him a 2.1 second lead from the chasing Matt Neal. Right with Rob Huff, and what was this? Surely not an Alfa Romeo? Yep, Carl Breeze was strong again, though he was soon to get a slice of Huff treatment.

Breeze barged past the SEAT only for Huff to be right back at him. Jason Plato was soon right with them in the action, and soon it was an Alfa following two SEATs.

Up front Matt Neal was closing very rapidly in on Anthony Reid and there was sure to be tears before bedtime. On the fourteenth lap Neal was right with Reid and the Scotsman was employing every trick in the book to keep Neal behind and in the clutches of Tom Chilton who was right with Neal's car.

Reid, in his endeavours to keep Neal behind him perhaps tried a little too hard, and both found themselves on the grass leaving young Tom Chilton to graciously accept the offer of the race lead and drive home to take his first win as the youngest ever BTCC winner.

Reid recovered from his grass-tracking, whilst Matt Neal suffered front splitter damage which was to hinder his braking and let the SEATs through after the altercation.

Whilst Tom Chilton was ecstatic with his first win, the race was only the start of the action at Silverstone...

Top ten: Silverstone - race three

1. Tom Chilton
2. Anthony Reid
3. Jason Plato
4. Rob Huff
5. Carl Breeze
6. Dan Eaves
7. James Thompson
8. Matt Neal
9. James Kaye
10. Michael Bentwood