Yvan Muller says taking his new pet donkey for a walk helps him shed his tough guy image and relax away from Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races.

Muller, the 2003 BTCC champion, is known for his hard man approach at race weekends when he squares up to title rivals Matt Neal and Jason Plato, but the Frenchman has admitted that an abandoned donkey that he rescued enables him to switch off from the pressures of competition.

"I saw him and a goat in a field and they were for sale - I found it funny so bought them and now they live with me at home in France," he said. "I called the donkey Nico and the goat Noah and taking them for a walk back home helps me forget about racing.

"It's true - I have two personalities. On BTCC weekends I am not really sociable because I don't want people to upset me and also because it is racing, it is my job.

"Away from racing, though, the other Yvan Muller that my friends know is friendlier."

Muller is just 13 points behind BTCC leader Matt Neal going into this weekend's three races at Norfolk, Snetterton. Muller could give his team Vauxhall its 100th BTCC race win after his two victories at Mondello Park, Ireland a fortnight ago put the manufacturer on 98.

However Muller said he wasn't too concerned about records.

"I don't have a particular feeling because it was not me who scored all the 98 wins," he said. "I don't really care about records. I always give 100 per cent when I race so I will not have more motivation."

Although he has been the form man in recent meetings, Muller knows it will be challenging to take the title and he admits that closing further on Neal, whose Team Halfords Honda Integra is tipped for glory around Snetterton's high-speed lay-out, will be tough.

"I have a doubt about my chances," he said. "We were good at Croft and again at Mondello but I'm a bit afraid that Snetterton is not a circuit for us."