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Peugeot tyred and emotional; MOTORSPORT.

PEUGEOT'S works team endured a tyres nightmare at Thruxton yesterday as Steve Soper and Dan Eaves failed to finish either round of the British Touring Car Championship.

Eaves suffered two blow-outs in the 15-lap opener while Soper lurched into an understeer slide at Church and was stranded with a jammed throttle.

And things went from bad to worse in the feature race with team boss Mick Linford pulling the plug after Soper's blow-out on lap 10.

"On safety grounds it made sense to bring both drivers back in," he explained. "We couldn't afford to have another blow-out - it just wasn't worth risking it for the drivers, spectators and cars.

"The tyre problem kept occurring on the fastest part of the circuit. You may ask why the Vauxhalls didn't experience the same problem, but they have the advantage of three months additional development time and their set-up obviously works the tyres in a better way than ours.

"That doesn't mean the fault is with the car. Thruxton has always caused tyre problems, and I'm amazed it hasn't been sorted out."

Peugeot's problems left the Vauxhalls to slug out their private duel, Jason Plato moving into a six-point championship lead when he followed up his sprint victory with second spot behind factory team-mate Yvan Muller.

Plato overcame a poor start to come home 2.305 seconds ahead of Muller in the sprint, with James Thompson third for Vauxhall's satellite team, Egg:Sport.

In contrast, Muller got off to a flyer from third on the grid, storming into the lead as Plato struggled on the dirtier side of the track.

But it took Plato only two laps to pass his colleague and, although the Frenchman tried to battle back, he could not regain the advantage.

Thompson was on pole for the feature but dropped to third as he was passed by the two factory cars through the Complex on lap one.

Plato got in front but was put under real pressure by Muller and after the duo made the first of their two mandatory pit stops, the lead changed hands.

From then on, Muller was never in danger and went on to win by exactly two seconds from Plato.

CAPTION(S):

SAFETY FIRST: Linford
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 8, 2001
Words:371
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