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THREE RACES, THREE PODIUMS FOR VAUXHALL - SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER

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  • THREE RACES, THREE PODIUMS FOR VAUXHALL - SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER

    Vauxhall finished its 2006 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign on a high at Silverstone this afternoon, finishing on the podium in all three races.

    Tom Chilton delivered two third places for the Luton-based manufacturer and Fabrizio Giovanardi racked up his seventh podium in this, his debut BTCC year.

    The Italian's result elevates him to fifth in the Drivers Championship - the highest-placed VX Racing driver.

    "This has been a difficult year," said the former European Touring Car Champion. "In the beginning I was really worried about the language barrier. It was a lot of drama. Now I know the team and we work well together. From the first time I tested for Vauxhall in the rain at Pembrey to this race at Silverstone, I feel I've improved at every stage."

    Chilton, from Reigate, became the first Vauxhall driver in 2006 to score two podiums in one race weekend. In the final round this afternoon the 21-year-old managed to get onto the podium from 22nd on the grid.

    "It's an amazing feeling," said Chilton."On the first lap Jason Plato had cold rear tyres and going into the second corner he over-steered. That allowed me to go past him and everyone else I just drove around!

    "When I came down the start straight for the first time and saw five cars in front of me I just thought, where's everyone gone? Then I just kept chipping away. I was absolutely flat out to the last bit.

    "This has been the hardest year of my career. It hasn't come naturally, being with a new team. You have a lot of new faces to learn, new relationships to make and you don't want to do anything wrong. I feel as we got better with the team the car has gone faster. Both myself and the team has adapted and it's been a really steep learning curve for all of us."

    Gavin Smith soldiered on with two broken ribs and managed to finish fourth in the day's second race. "I could have won it," said the Dubliner, who was well positioned for a restart, made necessary by a heavy accident involving Mike Jordan, James Thompson and Jason Plato. "I got a mega restart. I just got it right - I timed it all to perfection. I went round the first corner in fifth gear as you normally do but I wasn't going fast enough and the car slid. Three people got past me and then I couldn't really do much.

    "The pain-killing injection for my ribs worked a treat. I still can feel that something isn't right but I'm not in any discomfort."

    The team's achievement at Silverstone narrowed the gap to Manufacturers Championship rivals, SEAT, but it was not enough to preserve Vauxhall's five year domination of the title.

    Matt Neal and Team Halfords retained both the Drivers and Team Championships for a second year.

    DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
    Round 28, provisional result
    1. Gareth Howell (Honda Integra)
    2. Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    3. Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    4. Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    5. James Thompson (SEAT Léon)
    6. Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    7. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    8. Jason Plato (SEAT Léon)
    9, Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    10. Rob Collard (MG ZS)
    11. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
    Round 29, provisional result
    1. Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    2. Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    3. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    4. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    5. Rob Collard (MG ZS)
    6. Gareth Howell (Honda Integra)

    DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
    Round 30, provisional results
    1. Gareth Howell (Honda Integra)
    2. Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    3. Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    4. Jason Plato (SEAT Leon)
    5. James Thompson (SEAT Leon)
    6. Rob Collard (MG ZS)
    7. Tom Ferrier (SEAT Cupra Toledo)
    8. Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall Astra Coupe)
    9. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    16. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    BTCC DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
    1. Matt Neal (289)
    2. Jason Plato (241)
    3. Colin Turkington (240)
    4. Gordon Shedden (204)
    5. Fabrizio Giovanardi (163)
    6. James Thompson (162)
    7. Tom Chilton (139)
    8. Gavin Smith (123)

    BTCC MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
    1. SEAT (572)
    2. Vauxhall (52

    BTCC TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
    1. Team Halfords (512)
    2. SEAT Sport UK (41
    3. VX Racing (386)
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