Warren Hughes and MG took victory in the first race of the day at Brands Hatch in the British Touring Car Championship.

Warren, who yesterday qualified in a strong third place, made a solid start in his MG ZS and defended his place well in the busy first corners of the first lap of the 35 lap race. Once the cars shuffled for position Warren had retained his solid third place and set down to the task at hand.

The MG, as predicted by the drivers yesterday, proved to be strong in race setup and Warren kept the two cars of championship contenders James Thompson and Yvan Muller right in sight and was soon reeling them in.

Right behind Warren at the start was Colin Turkington who retained his fifth place in the hectic early laps and was looking good for a strong race. Clearly with a good setup perfected between Colin and the West Surrey Racing crew, Colin underlined the potential of the package by setting the fastest lap on lap four of the race.

Warren Hughes was closing back up with the Vauxhalls before the compulsory pitstop, but it was another superb from the West Surrey Racing crew which mean that Warren emerged as the race leader after the field had worked through their stops.

"The key to the race victory was the pitstop by WSR," credited Warren afterwards. "That must have been one of the best pitstops all season, and that really clinched us the race win."

In the closing laps as there was some precipitation in the air, Yvan Muller was closing in on Warren's MG and Hughes readied himself to defend the position. Then as Muller closed in on the MG his Vauxhall began to overheat, so looking to his championship Muller dropped back, and Warren and MG were left to drive to the chequered flag.

"I knew he was coming," said Warren about the threat of the Frenchman. "I was ready for a very tough last few laps, I was ready, and I would have done absolutely everything I could do to keep the lead. It's one thing getting close enough, and another thing to keep him behind."

Colin Turkington had another race in the thick of the action and spent most of the first half battling to try to get past the BTCC's tallest driver, Matt Neal. Whilst Colin had Neal in front of him he had Paul O'Neill right on his tail, eager to find his way past the MG.

"My car was quite strong through Paddock and that's where Paul was trying to attack me, so I could defend that well," explained Colin. "That's where I could pass Matt Neal, it was good to get past him as I knew I had the pace to get away."

Colin's podium performance comes after a fourth place last time out at Snetterton, so Colin is clearly not letting the success ballast affect him. "I'm pleased that I was running strong and carrying 33 kilograms," he said. "I think I get an extra 9 kilos now but the way I ran that race, the pace I had, there every chance of another podium."

The race win comes as MG's second of 2003 and for Warren represents a good change of fortunes - last time out at Snetterton he exited the first race in the first lap then suffered from a wrong choice on set-up for the second.

"It's a big relief," said Warren after being soaked to the bone by champagne on the winners podium. "I feel a weight is lifted off my shoulders, I was looking forward to this race so much after having had a couple of disappointing races at Croft and Snetterton and this was the chance for me to get my season back on track and just turn a corner."

Anthony Reid meanwhile found the extra ballast coming from his third place at the last race at Snetterton hampered his car, but with its removal for the second race all looks set for another great MG performance.

Still dripping with champagne, Warren looked to the second race of the day where he will carry winner's success ballast. "I think it's going to be tough to win! If luck falls our way a podium is possible." As for the soaking overalls and boots? "I've got a spare pair of everything thankfully!"

Top ten1 Warren Hughes MG ZS
2 Yvan Muller3 Colin Turkington MG ZS
4 Matt Neal
5 James Thompson
6 Paul O'Neill7 Anthony Reid MG ZS
8 Tom Chilton
9 David Leslie
10 Carl Breeze