- April 26, 1974
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
James Thompson is a British racing driver who spent an almost entire career in touring car racing, winning two British Touring Car Championship titles and scoring four WTCC race victories as his greatest achievements.
He was the BTCC champion in 2002 and 2004, driving a Vauxhall Astra Coupe. In the World Touring Car Championship, he competed between 2005 and 2016 with seven different cars, scoring four victories. Most recently, he competed with Münnich Motorsport in the first part of the 2018 WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup season.
Early racing attempts in Formula Vauxhall before BTCC debut in 1994
Born in April 1974 in York, North Yorkshire, James Thompson made his first racing attempts in the Formula Vauxhall Junior in 1991. Three years later, he made a debut in the 1994 British Touring Car Championship with privately entered #19 Peugeot 405 Mi16.
In his debut BTCC seasons, Thompson earned one single championship point by finishing 10th overall in the 12th race of the season at Silverstone. He was also the best privateer in that race. At the end of the season, Thompson was 23rd in the overall classification and fourth among eight privateers.
The youngest ever BTCC race winner in the first season with Vauxhall
Thompson's performance in his rookie season earned him a drive with RML-operated Vauxhall factory team for the 1995 BTCC season. He was driving the #14 Vauxhall Cavalier 16v. In the third round of the season, at Thruxton, he started from pole in the second race and scored his maiden BTCC victory, becoming the youngest ever winner.
He suffered a severe eye injury in a crash during practice for the ninth round at Knockhill, skipping that racing weekend and missing all four remaining rounds until the end of the season. At the end of the season, he was 7th in the points and contributed to the Teams' title for Vauxhall Sport together with his championship-winning teammate John Cleland.
One victory in the first season with Vauxhall Vectra
A new Vauxhall Vectra was introduced for the 1996 BTCC season. Vauxhall Sport retained their title-winning driver line up of John Cleland and James Thompson.
It was a transitional and development season for Vectra and the team scored just one win over the season. It was Thompson's win at Snetterton in the #7 Vectra. He ended a season tenth in the points, two positions behind Cleland.
Four seasons and ten BTCC wins in a Honda Accord
For the 1997 BTCC season, Thompson moved to the Team Honda Sport, operated by Prodrive. He was driving the #10 Honda Accord alongside Gabriele Tarquini as a teammate in the #20 car. Each driver scored one victory to finish fifth (Thompson) and sixth (Tarquini) in the points. Thompson was the race winner at Brands Hatch.
In 1998, the results were much better. Thompson was a race winner four times in the #5 Honda Accord, ending a season third in the points, behind Rickard Rydell and Anthony Reid. Thompson's teammate was Peter Kox. In 1999, his third season with Honda, now operated by West Surrey Racing, Thompson recorded four wins in the #3 Honda Accord to finish fourth in the points.
Thompson's last season with Honda was 2000. He won one race to finish ninth in the points. He missed two rounds because of injury.
Part-time schedule with Audi in the 2000 DTM season
Parallel to his BTCC commitments in 2000, Thompson participated on a part-time schedule in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). He was driving the #21 Audi TT-R for Abt Sportsline in six rounds.
He finished among point-scorers twice, taking ninth place at Oschersleben and ninth place in season's finale at Hockenheim.
Four wins with Egg Sport's Vauxhall Vectra in 2001
When Honda withdrew from BTCC at the end of 2000, Thompson rejoined Vauxhall. Yvan Muller and Jason Plato were Vauxhall Motorsport drivers while Thompson was driving the #9 Vauxhall Astra Coupe under the banner of Egg; Sport.
Vauxhalls were absolutely dominant that season with four drivers in the first four places. Jason Plato was a champion, Thompson finished third after winning four races.
First BTCC championship title in 2002
In 2002, the reigning champion Jason Plato left Vauxhall Motorsport and Thompson took over his place next to Yvan Muller as a teammate. Driving the #3 Vauxhall Astra Coupe, Thompson won six races and defeated Muller in the championship fight for twenty points. They won Teams' and Manufacturers' titles for Vauxhall.
Vauxhall's domination continued in 2003 under the new name VX Racing. Muller and Thompson shared ten victories among them. Muller was a race winner six times and became the champion, Thompson finished second.
One more championship title with Vauxhall in 2004
In 2004, Thompson repeated four victories in a Vauxhall Astra Coupe against five wins of Yvan Muller. However, Thompson collected more points, defeating Muller after a thrilling finish by just one point.
Muller was a winner in the last decisive race of the season but Thompson finished third, what was enough for his second championship title.
Occasional ETCC attempts between 2001 and 2004
While racing with Vauxhall in the British championship from 2001 to 2004, Thompson occasionally competed in the European Touring Car Championship with other manufacturers. In 2001, he joined Italian team JAS Motorsport in two rounds in a Honda Accord, scoring podiums both at Jarama and Estoril.
In 2003, he raced in last two ETCC rounds with N.Technology's Alfa Romeo 156 GTA, winning a race at Monza. In 2004, he rejoined Alfa Romeo in four ETCC rounds, winning a race at Donington and adding three more podiums.
World Touring Car Championship debut in 2005 with Alfa
In 2005, the ETCC was converted into the World Touring Car Championship. With BTCC trophy in his hands, Thompson left British championship to join Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo as a full-time driver in the World Championship.
At the wheel of the #3 Alfa Romeo 156, he won a race in the season-opening round at Monza. It remained his only win that season and he finished 8th in the final WTCC standings.
Double programme with Seat Sport in 2006
Thompson changed a manufacturer in 2006, joining Seat Sport. He had a double programme with Spanish brand, driving Seat Leon full season in the WTCC and in six (of ten) BTCC meetings.
He was more successful in the #14 Seat Leon in the national championship, scoring three victories and finishing sixth in the points. Seat Sport UK clinched Manufacturers' title and finished second among teams. In the WTCC, Thompson scored three podiums in 2006 to finish 8th in the final classification.
Two WTCC seasons with N.Technology
For the 2007 WTCC season, Thompson rejoined Italian N.Technology, returning to the cockpit of Alfa Romeo 156. He was a double winner in the Spanish round at Circuito Ricardo Tormo, adding six more podiums later in the season to finish third in WTCC standings, behind Andy Priaulx and Yvan Muller. Up to date, it remained Thompson's career-best WTCC result.
In 2008, Thompson stayed with N.Technology but the team switched from Alfa to Honda Accord Euro R. Driving the #15 car, Thompson managed to win one race and finished the season 15th in the points. The victory at Imola was his last WTCC triumph in a career.
In 2008, Thompson was also driving Honda Accord Euro R in the Danish Touring Car Championship, scoring two wins to finish 9th in the points.
European Touring Car Cup winner in a Honda
In 2009, Thompson had a wide schedule of races all over the world in several competitions. His greatest success that year was a victory in the European Touring Car Cup. It was a two-race event at Circuito Vasco Sameiro near Braga in Portugal. Thompson won in a Honda Accord Euro R of Hartmann Honda Racing. He was using that car over the season in the Danish Touring Car Championship, winning four races to finish third in the points.
He was also driving Honda, not Accord but Civic, in the 2009 British Touring Car Championship for Team Dynamics. In six rounds and eighteen races, he won three times.
Driving a Lada in the WTCC, racing with Ford in Australia
Besides racing with Honda in the DTCC and BTCC in 2009, Thompson started a cooperation with Russian manufacturer Lada, attending five WTCC rounds with their new race car Priora.
A completely new challenge for Thompson was his participation in two endurance events of the Australian V8 Supercars Championship. In September, he raced at Phillip Island, and then, in October, in the famous Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama Circuit. He was a co-driver to Allan Simonsen in the #88 Ford FG Falcon.
One more triumph in the European Touring Car Cup in 2010
During 2010, Thompson served as a development driver for the new BTCC cars under the Next Generation Touring Car regulations. His racing commitments that year were limited to occasional drives with Hartmann's Honda Accord in the Danish and Scandinavian competitions.
However, he triumphed again in the European Touring Car Cup. The cup was expanded to three events, unlike in previous years where it was a one-off event. Driving the #1 Honda Accord Euro R, Thompson was a race winner once and defeated his teammate Michel Nykjaer, who won four races but missed one event.
Season with Polestar Racing in the STCC
In 2011, Thompson joined Polestar Racing to drive Volvo C30 in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. He participated in the first five rounds before being replaced by Gabriele Tarquini. In ten races, he was on a podium two times.
In October 2011, Thompson returned to BTCC in a one-off attempt at Brands Hatch's finale, supporting Mat Jackson's title bid in Airwaves Racing's Ford Focus ST. Thompson retired in two races and scored one point in the last race. It turned to be his last BTCC meeting in a career.
Four WTCC seasons with Lada Sport
Thompson's previous partnership with Lada Sport resulted in a new deal and his return to the World Touring Car Championship, first in just two rounds in 2012 and then a full season in 2013. His race car was a Lada Granta WTCC. His best result was the fifth place in the Russian round at Moscow Raceway.
A new generation Lada Granta 1.6T came in 2014 and Thompson raced in all twelve rounds with that car, finishing best in the sixth place in China. A new Lada Vesta WTCC came in 2015 but Thompson left Lada Sport Rosneft after three rounds. He was out of racing until the end of the season.
Racing with Münnich Motorsport in the inaugural WTCR season
In 2016, Thompson was invited to join Münnich Motorsport from the second round of the World Touring Car Championship. He was driving the #15 Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 in seven rounds, taking two wins among Independent drivers. At the end of the season, he was 14th in the overall classification and fourth among independents.
In 2017, Thompson was out of racing and then Rene Münnich invited him again to rejoined the team. This time, the competition is the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup. Thompson's new race car was the #15 Honda Civic Type R TCR. He participated in the first five rounds, scoring one podium.