Yvan Muller stole a march on his VX Racing team-mate, James Thompson, through virtue of a better getaway from the lights, and the Astra drivers were never a second apart for the entirety of the race as Muller took victory in the first race of three today at Oulton Park.

Muller, with the lighter car through having missed the last race at Silverstone, was pushed all the way, but though Thompson was close, he was never close enough.

"Every point important, especially fighting someone like Thommo," said Muller after the race, "he was pushing me to th elimit and I had to produce 120%".

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The real action, however, was behind the leading pair, and that tenth place was hotly contested.

Sixth place starting Anthony Reid, carrying second place success, had a slightly down on power car from a misfire that afflicted him from the third lap, but though the power may have been wilting the girth of the MG was increasing at every turn as Anthony defended position, but ultimately worked its ways backwards through the field.

"The car was great for the first two or three laps, working well," explained Reid. "Then suddenly on lap three it developed a misfire and lost a lot of power, so much so that I wasn't able to use top gear on the straight so everyone was catching me."

And catch him they did. The rear of Reid's MG ZS was very battle scarred come the end of the race, and rather a lot of drivers were very familiar with what an MG ZS looks like from behind.

"I had to do a huge defensive job and I'm fortunate to get pole, it's a great result," said Reid. But what of the driving standards as people tried to get past the MG ZS? "There's a lot of animals out there," he said, "had I done that to James Thompson, I'd have been slung out of the championship!"

Ahead of Reid come the chequered flag was James Kaye, who had worked hard to get past the WSR MG, and eventually resorted to giving the Scotsman a nudge. "Anothy did make his car wide," explained Kaye, "it got a bit forceful, but I don't think it was anywhere near as forceful as those who came past behind me."

Further up the field, Reidy's sparring partner from Silverstone, Matt Neal, had made a bad start from the line, but fought through the race to make amends. "Normally we're away like a bullet, but there was a problem with the clutch," said Neal off his wheel-spinning getaway from the line. Once he was in control, Neal found himself behind Rob Collard, who had no problems whatsoever with his start.

Neal was on the case however, and Collard's position was soon his, though not before Neal demonstrated how to keep a heavily oversteering Civic pointing the right way after contact. Neal's next victim was to be Colin Turkington, and after a third of a lap side by side, Neal won through.

By that time, as Neal put it, Muller and Thompson had 'made a break,' so there was no chance that the Computeach Racing with Halfords driver would challenge the Vauxhall pairing.

Turkington, after Neal was past, came under the scrutiny of Rob Collard, and this attention was to last for almost the entire race. It was only a mistake on the final lap that allowed Turkington a breather.

"It's good to get some point," said the WSR driver, "but there was a problem with understeer, if we sort that out is should be good in the second race."

Fifth place went to Collard, a place he took comfortably after outbraking himself in his pursuit of Turkington. James Kaye took a strong sixth after pushing on hard after making past Anthony Reid's wide MG.

Rob Huff came home in seventh in the SEAT place in what was looking like being an uncharacteristic race free from contact, until Luke Hines decided that some metal on metal action was in order and accosted the Toledo. Hines retired, and this promoted Reid from eleventh to the race two pole tenth place, and Huff gathered everything back together to come home ahead of team-mate Jason Plato.

Top ten
1. Yvan Muller
2. James Thompson
3. Matt Neal
4. Colin Turkington
5. Rob Collard
6. James Kaye
7. Rob Huff
8. Jason Plato
9. Dan Eaves
10. Anthony Reid