THE night of the stars in the British Touring Car Championship proved one of mixed fortunes for York's James Thompson.

Bundled off the track within minutes of starting one race, he hurtled back into contention in the second to snatch third place and much deserved points for himself and Honda.

Rain hit the meeting at Snetterton, Norfolk, and the Round 16 Feature Race due to start at midnight did not get underway until 12.30am, but because a curfew had been imposed on the event, it was decided to shorten the race from 34 to 20 laps.

Championship leader Alain Menu had hurtled ahead from his second place on the grid, while Thompson was having to find a way through the field from his sixth.

His chance to move up the field came as those ahead started pulling into the pits for the obligatory wheel change.

Thompson led the pack for four laps before having to pull into the pits himself, but had been able to put in some quick laps and a seconds-saving pit stop meant that when he headed back to the track he had fallen only to third.

"The car was quite good in the wet so it was a matter of staying out as long as possible and putting in a few quick laps. I just put my head down and went for it," he said.

However, he was not quick enough to move ahead of Menu's Ford Mondeo who went on to win, or Vauxhall Vectra driver Jason Plato who grabbed second place. Overall it was a successful run out for Plato, having earlier taken the laurels in the 17-lap Sprint, Round 15 of the Championship.

Thompson was lying fifth when in the second lap he was hit from behind by the Mondeo of Anthony Reid and off he went, nose-diving into the tyre wall.

"He hit me on the straight; there was absolutely no need. There was loads of open road," said Thompson.

Reid went on to grab the fifth place.

The Boroughbridge team of John Bintcliff Racing ended the evening celebrating a job well done in the Class B events. Until Saturday's races, the team, running two Nissan Primeras, had a record mainly consisting of 'did not finish'.

But Harrogate's Marc Nordon collected points in the Sprint, finishing in tenth place overall and fourth in the Class B category, only the third time he has actually finished a race, while in the Feature event his team-mate, Robert Collard, from Hampshire, recorded the first Class victory for himself and for Bintcliff Racing.

Bintcliff, a former Touring Car driver with Audi, saw the results as a signal that his team are at last getting things right.

Former Touring Car Championship independent driver Paula Cook, who drove the DC Cook Nissan last season, has returned to the circuit but now driving in the autobytel Lotus Championship, part of the British Touring Car Championship programme.

The Yorkshire girl finished sixth in a race marred by an accident which led to a spectator being slightly injured by flying debris.