BTCC » 23 May 2004
Eaves takes maiden win at Oulton.
Dan Eaves took his first win in the British Touring Car Championship in an exciting race which saw the emergence of the safety car following an incident between SEAT's Rob Huff and privateer Rob Collard.
Eaves stole a march on polesitter Anthony Reid and made a gap between him and the rest of the field. Reid's car didn't look as quick as would be expected, and post race it was confirmed that the electrical gremlins causing him a misfire in the first race had indeed returned for the second.
Whilst Eaves moved off to make a lead at the head of the field, behind Reid it was all action. Rob Collard was off to a stunning start and challenging the two SEAT Toledos ahead.
As the Toledo duo duelled ahead, Collard got fully stuck in and soon all tree were side by side at the twisty Cheshire circuit. In a superb move, Collard was at once ahead of both the SEATs.
Down at the chicane on the first lap Huff lost out and ran wide, coming back to the circuit he nearly took out team-mate Plato.
Further down the field, race one winner Yvan Muller wasn't finding things good with maximum success ballast, and the Frenchman was overtaken by Tom Chilton as the second lap started. The top ten had crossed the line Eaves, Reid, Collard, Plato, Huff, Kaye, Turkington, Neal, Thompson, Butler-Henderson; and there were plenty of scraps shaping up in the field.
Eaves knocked off what was to be the races fastest lap on his second tour, but his moves to make space between him and those behind were undone later on. Matt Neal and James Thompson were working their way through the field, with Neal then Thommo taking Colin Turkington's MG.
Soon it was to be a five car snake, with Collard leading Plato, Huff, Kaye and Neal with all cars firmly affixed to the car in front. Plato, who had blasted Collard as a driver who was, in Plato's words, 'blatantly trying to ruin' flying laps in qualifying, was more generous about the Hampshire man's race craft after the race.
Plato and Collard diced at every corner for a couple of laps, and Collard was certainly employing all the tricks in the book to keep Plato behind him. Eventually Plato found his way through, with both Collard and Plato leaving each other just enough room to emerge the other side. That wasn't reckoning on the presence of Rob Huff.
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