17 July 2005
Muller takes easy win.
Yvan Muller took an easy race win in the second race of the day in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft after a storming start put him in the lead from race one winner, Colin Turkington.
Turkington, with his car heavier from his first race win, found the going tough as he resisted the attentions of first Jason Plato and then in the latter stages Tom Chilton.
Championship leader Matt Neal found himself with everything to do from the end of the first lap. Neal had entered the hairpin at the end of the lap ahead of Plato's SEAT, but left a gap big enough for Plato to push through. Somehow as this was happening, Neal hit his pitlane speed limiter and lost vital seconds as the field ploughed by down the pit-straight, crossing the start-finish line at the end of the lap in twelfth place.
Muller, of course, didn't have to concern himself with any of this and by the end of the second lap he had a gap of some 1.4 seconds, and the Frenchman would then enjoy a peaceful run to his second race win of 2005.
Turkington for second place had a far more difficult time of it. His first attacker was Jason Plato, fresh from his Matt Neal despatch. Whilst Plato harrassed the race one winner, so behind him Dan Eaves had a far quicker car and was experiencing the difficulties of trying to get past the SEAT, and at the same time keep the fiesty Tom Chilton behind him.
It all came to a head on the sixth lap. Plato had barged almost past Turkington at the end of the previous lap, but the Astra had stayed wide enough down the straight and into the first corner to mean that Plato remained behind. Eaves however had taken the advantage here and worked his Integra alongside Plato, such that they somehow went through the chicane side-by-side.
The panel-rubbing and paint trading between Plato and Eaves would not last for long however, and as they powered along the back straight Plato appeared to edge Eaves on to the grass and into a half-spin, right in front of the SEAT. Both returned to the track, though Plato had only dropped to sixth from the incident whilst Eaves was down to eleventh.
Whilst Plato was initially the better off from his second incident with a Team Halfords car, he then later started to drop back through the field. Thoughts that the former champ was doing a tactical move for tenth, and race three pole, were extinguished as Jason took to the pits for his crew to sort his smoking car. This was duly done and Plato was back on track for an eventual thirteenth placed finish.
Tenth, and pole for race three, ironically went the way of the driver Plato had battled, Dan Eaves, who must look favourite for the race win at this hard to pass circuit.
Elsewhere, Matt Neal enjoyed a fight back through the field, most notably passing VX Racing's Gavin Smith for sixth place. Neal was past into Tower, but Smith kept his toe in down through the Jim Clarke Esses and around Sunny In, but ultimately lost out on the debris on the outside of the bend.
Some fourteen cars finished the second race of the day at Croft, with not a single retirement; Mark Proctor's Astra not having made the start following the damage in the first race of the day. Fiona Leggate in only her second race was to finish in forteenth and last after a race which had seen her work her way up as high as eleventh and closing in for tenth, before a mistake meant she let the Lexus of Ian Curley and Richie Williams past, and later a recovering Jason Plato too.
1. Yvan Muller
2. Colin Turkington
3. Tom Chilton
4. Rob Collard
5. James Kaye
6. Matt Neal
7. Gavin Smith
8. James Pickford
9. Luke Hines
10. Dan Eaves
11. Ian Curley
12. Richie Williams
13. Jason Plato
14. Fiona Leggate
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