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{TCar} BTCC: Silverstone report 20/4/97

>Menu and Renault score Silverstone double
>Alain Menu and the Renault team this afternoon (Sun) strengthened their
>grip on the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship with another
>impressive pair of race victories at Silverstone, bringing their tally for
>the season so far to four wins out of four.
>Swiss ace Menu, 33, led both races all the way, save for the opening two
>laps of the day's second BTCC battle, after James Thompson jumped the start
>-- for which he was penalised with a stop-go pitlane penalty.
>Menu now enjoys a 25-point championship lead over Swede Rickard Rydell
>(Volvo), with Renault heading Volvo in the manufacturer race by 12 points.
>First race of the day -- round three of the Auto Trader Championship -- was
>a thriller from the word go, for as the lights flashed to green,
>pole-sitter Jason Plato (Renault) stalled on the grid. Team-mate Menu made
>no error, however, to lead into the first corner ahead of the charging
>Kelvin Burt, whose Volvo had sprinted up from sixth on the grid. James
>Thompson's Honda held third from Frank Biela's Audi, up from ninth position
>on the grid, with David Leslie (Nissan) fifth from Rydell.
>There was carnage at the second corner as Paul Radisich (Ford), John
>Bintcliffe (Audi) and Anthony Reid (Nissan) collided, debris from the
>accident accounting also for the Ford of independent racer Matt Neal.
>Rydell made his move on lap two, recovering from a poor start in the S40 to
>overhaul Biela and Leslie and snatch fourth position. Next time around
>Rydell snatched third from Thompson and locked on to the tail of team-mate
>Burt. As Menu eked out a two-second gap at the front, all eyes were on the
>battling Volvos of Burt and Rydell. The Swede was clearly the quicker of
>the two but it took him an agonising eight laps to find his way through and
>into second position.
>By this time Menu was cruising ahead with a four-second advantage, but the
>Renault man was visibly backing off, allowing Rydell to close in to within
>a second as the duo entered their last lap. Rydell threw everything he had
>into the run down to the flag, but at the close the Renault was still 0.7
>seconds ahead.
>Leslie moved ahead of Burt seven laps from home to notch up a maiden podium
>placing for the nascent Nissan team, with Burt collecting fourth ahead of
>Gabriele Tarquini in the Honda. Tarquini's was the drive of the race after
>a very poor start and first-lap delays. Twelfth at the end of the first
>lap, his progress through the field to fifth was a spectacular effort and
>made up for Honda's disappointment at losing Thompson from fourth place
>with engine failure after six laps.
>Plato charged through the field also, posting faster lap times than Menu
>and making it into the top 10 two laps from home to collect a solitary
>championship point. Some further consolation for the young Brit was the
>honour of setting fastest lap of the race.
>The 1990 champion, Robb Gravett, earned a good win in the Total Cup for
>Independents on his return to the championship, his Honda overhauling Lee
>Brookes's Peugeot at mid-distance and maintaining a three-second advantage
>at the flag.
>Round four saw pole man Menu make another excellent start, but Thompson,
>alongside on the front row, made an even better one. Too good, as it
>transpired, and after two laps in the lead the Honda man was called into
>the pits for a stop-go penalty by the clerks of the course, dropping him
>way down the field. Thompson later complained that he was suffering from a
>slipping clutch as the result of an engine change between races.
>Burt made another good start, but his race ended on lap one when he tangled
>with the charging Plato and spun into the gravel, an incident which was
>later to be investigated by the race stewards. By lap three Menu enjoyed a
>one-second lead over Rydell, with Reid in third place for Nissan ahead of
>Plato and the Peugeots of Patrick Watts and Tim Harvey. Reid slipped back
>to sixth next time around, and into retirement with a misfire the following
>The battle for the lead was a fierce one, but by middle distance the gap
>had expanded to two seconds and, with Rydell unable to live with Menu's
>pace, the Swiss cruised in to his second victory of the day. The winning
>margin at the chequer was three seconds.
>Plato kept in touch to claim third, ahead of Harvey and the battling
>Vauxhalls of Derek Warwick and John Cleland, with Will Hoy salvaging
>seventh for Ford by passing Watts on the final tour. Thompson recovered
>from his penalty to take ninth, just ahead of Gravett, who claimed the
>Total Cup honours again.
>Further action was provided by Leslie and Bintcliffe, who collided on lap
>17 while disputing eighth place. Both retired. After the race Plato was
>excluded for his part in the lap-one incident with Burt, but he was
>subsequently reinstated after an appeal by the Renault team.
>Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, round 3 
>Silverstone, 20/4/97    
>20 laps/45.04 miles  
>1  Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 28m 20.191s, 95.47mph / 153.64kmh; 
>2  Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, +0.704s; 
>3  David Leslie (GB), Nissan Primera, +13.016s; 
>4  Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo S40, +15.266s; 
>5  Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, +20.520s.
>Fastest lap: Plato, 1m 23.257s, 97.37mph / 156.71kmh (establishes record). 
>Round 4  
>20 laps/45.04 miles  
>1  Menu, 28m 13.133s, 95.86mph / 154.28kmh; 
>2  Rydell, +3.187s; 
>3  Jason Plato (GB), Renault Laguna, +5.722s; 
>4  Tim Harvey (GB), Peugeot 406, +26.476s; 
>5  Derek Warwick (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +29.250s.
>Fastest lap: Menu, 1m 23.428s, 97.17mph / 156.38kmh. 
>1 Menu, 61 points; 2 Rydell, 36; 3 Plato, 26; 4 Burt, 20; =5 Leslie & 
>Tarquini, 18, etc. 
>1 Renault, 60; 2 Volvo, 48; 3 Honda, 26; 4 Nissan, 24; 5 Audi, 23; 6 
>Vauxhall, 22; 7 Ford, 21; 8 Peugeot, 18. 
>Total Cup Independents  
>1 Colin Gallie (GB/BMW), 50; 2 Gravett, 30; 3 Jamie Wall 
>(GB/Vauxhall), 28, etc. 
>Next rounds  May 5, Thruxton
>BTCC97  www.demon.co.uk/racing/
     _                _
    / |      _| o    | \       _| o     Jeffrey Goggin
   /__| | | / | | __ |  | | | / | |     audidudi@delphi.com
  /   | |_| \_| |    |_/  |_| \_| |     http://people.delphi.com/audidudi