James Thompson produced a marvellous display of driving in the second of the weekend's World Touring Car Championship races at Valencia to record a double victory for N.Technology Alfa Romeo.
The first time a double has been achieved since Jorg Muller at Magny-Cours in 2005, Thompson was on stunning form to pick off his rivals one-by-one to claim another surprise victory for the Alfa Romeo 156 on what has been a perfect weekend for the Italian team.
A entertaining race that involved battles raging up and down the field, eventually Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx emerged second and third to secure a podium and with it the championship lead, even if the day was undoubtedly all about the man from Yorkshire.
With Muller on pole position, courtesy of his eighth place finish in the first race, and the advent of a standing start, the German was always the favourite to lead into the first corner. However, it was not Muller who got the jump at the lights as expected, instead Luca Rangoni alongside him surging past him into turn one and into first.
However, that novelty didn't last long when Muller, spotting that he would not keep Rangoni behind in turn one, swept to the outside of the corner and cut back in again, out-braking the Italian and re-taking the lead of the race.
A typically bustling first lap, albeit one without the dramas that befell those in the first outing, Muller and Rangoni led Priaulx in third, ahead of Yvan Muller, Jordi Gene, James Thompson, Michel Jourdain – down from fourth – and Alain Menu at the end of the first lap.
The emphasis was quickly on Thompson though, the Brit taking just a couple of laps to reach his rhythm before passing both Gene and Muller on the same lap with two clean and easy passing moves. Thompson had even tried to make it a trio of passes when Priaulx, who in his desperation to get by Rangoni had actually slipped back into the clutches of his rivals, prompted some determined weaving to find a way past from both himself and Muller.
Priaulx quickly recovered though and eventually found a way past Rangoni on lap four, his BMW links helping to massage his passage through. Any hopes though that Rangoni would be able to keep Thompson at bay though quickly dashed on lap six when the Alfa found his way past, pulling Muller through with him in the process.
Having made the most of having Rangoni behind to stay comfortable over the first few laps, the arrival of Priaulx onto his back bumper was starting to prompt small errors by Muller, culminating in a lurid slide on lap seven that had his team-mate all over him for half a lap, the duo defending and attacking with entertaining fervour.